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PLIGHT OF WOMEN

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Ululations, songs and dance are heard miles from their home. It is 8am on a bright day in a village at the outcast of Nairobi.Escorted by her mother,and three of her female counterparts, a young girl aged 14 years is among them.
Little does she know what awaits her as she is told vaguely that they are going for common tradition rituals in the village. Women are dressed up in their traditional regalia's and the festivity fever is ta the pitch.
It is in this humble village that the girl is told the transition she is bond to undergo,the CUT.She helplessly resists all in vain as she faces the knife.
Only this time, she undergoes the third type of a cut which is horrible.There are three types of FGMs. The first and least invasive is where only the top of the clitoris is sliced off.The second type involves removal of the clitoris and the outer part of the vagina. The third type and most damaging is the removal of the entire clitoris and the outer and inner parts of the vagina leaving nothing but the urinal and vaginal openings. The vagina is the stitched up.
This is what the poor girl went through leading to profuse bleeding that resulted to her death.
She is one of the many girls and women who have died from this barbaric customs from female genital mutilations in most societies in Kenya where the practice is still too conservative for them.
Some leaders are reluctant to shun the vice despite knowing its repercussion.
However, in the Maasai community, one lady has been named THE VAGINA WARRIOR for the fight against the norm.Thanks to one Agnes Pareiyo. She too underwent the third type of ritual. Today, she is the chief campaigner determined to wipe off the tradition and has been fighting for the rights of girls and women in her society and beyond.
She has set up a rescue center for girls who escape from forced early marriages and FGM seek refuge.
Slowly but surely, Agnes is getting more support. She already has rewards for her role in the society. One from the former president of Kenya, Daniel Moi for her achievements and the other from the UN for being Kenyan Woman of the year 2005.
What a lady. Isn't she lovely? More women should come up and join hands in curbing the norms in our society. Only then will we have better future.

Comments

JMKELLAM's picture

Faith, I can only vaguely

Faith,

I can only vaguely imagine what it is like to live in country where to some people that type of mutilation is acceptable. I live in a world where the free press is scorn for discussing the gender of a candidate and I feel a bit silly for caring about such issues. It is so important to inform the world about female circumscision and about women like Agnes Pareiyo. Lovely is a kind word for her. I can't imagine the courage she has.

In my effort to support her right now, I am going to email a link to this page to everyone I know. I also want to share this article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/medical_notes/241221.stm) to all readers who may need more information on the practice of female circumcision.

Faith, thank you for your post.

In friendship,

Jenna Kellam

Lisa's picture

Agnes Pareyio

Faith,

Thank you for bringing Agnes Pareyio into the spotlight. Yes, she is quite lovely!! I was reading her story here: www.orato.com/current-events/2006/08/01/rescuing-maasai-girls-female-cir...

What really struck me about her story was the social pressure she experienced in questioning why cutting is a necessary rite of passage. She knew in her soul it was dangerous, harmful, and scary. She tried to defend her health by refusing FGM and was stigmatized, called a coward and lost respect in her community. Yet, she rose! She continues to challenge the government to enforce Kenyan laws banning FGM. She is a force in the community and her safe house is an incredible support system for girls who have run away and refused the procedure. I look to role models like Agnes for their strength, courage, and compassion to recognize girls as our future. There is much in society that needs to changed until all instances of FGM have ceased. I hope someday (soon!) everyone will recognize the importance of the health of women and girls and we are able to redefine what opportunity for girls looks like.

Warmly,

Lisa

Dave Alexander's picture

Thank You for Sharing

Thank you, Faith, for sharing from your heart what is happening. I knew that these cruelties were all-to-common, but did not know the extent to which they are tied to historical practice and old-ways thinking. I am glad for people like Agnes and that she has some protection from the law. I am saddened by how hard the challenge remains. She is amazing. What passion and commitment.

In Friendship, Dave...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Faith Mutuma's picture

PLIGHT OF WOMEN

Greetings,

I also come from a community where Female Genital Mutilation was practiced and still is practiced in the remote parts. Luckily for me and my elder sisters have undergone the ritual.It was believed that a girl could not be married off if she was uncircumcised.They call such girls 'nkeyes' while the circumcised ones are called 'ngutus'. Those who are deep rooted to the African culture could not marry the 'nkeyes' as they were considered an abomination and they were believed to be cowards. The ritual was performed at a tender age thus majority of the girls did not finish school as the cut prepared them for passage to adulthood.This was quite similar in the Traditional African Concept as was the case of the Vagina Warrior, Agnes Pareiyo.She was pulled out of school and married off at the age of 18 years to a village elder.Once a girl is deemed an adult, sis quickly married off and education becomes a by gone.Young girls are being cut at the tender age of nine years and forced to marry before their 12th birthday.

Dave Alexander's picture

Growing Beyond Culture

Hello Faith,

As I observe history, most things start with a purpose (occasionally a good one) then somehow get a life of their own. They persist beyond reason. How can we begin to move people beyond habit, especially habituated mutilation and other abuses? It must be possible to make progress.

In Friendship, Dave...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

A few more resources

Faith,

I honor you for showing so much courage and compassion in your writings on PulseWire. I am learning a lot from you.... although much causes sadness, your commitment to end life's cruelties and injustices inspire me and give me hope.

I found a few more websites that might be of use to our community:

Stop FGM/C (http://www.stopfgmc.org)
Stop FGM/C is a web portal by AIDOS-association for women in development.

V-Day (http://www.vday.org/main.html)

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.

Thank you Faith,

Jennifer

Faith Mutuma's picture

Thanks to you all for your

Thanks to you all for your responses...slowly but surely i can confirm that the practice is slowly dying in the communities where it was practiced and thanks to the Kenyan Government stern laws have been enforced to curb off the vice.So have many organizations been established to save the girls who run from their homes away from the practice.
The church has played its role too in the fight and its kudos to all the ambassadors of hope who in one way or the other have positively brought the change.

In friendship,
Faith

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