Mothers` Perspectives Of Female Genital Mutilation
The purpose of this study was to find out mothers perspectives on female genital mutilation (FGM) among the Maasai community in Kenya. The aim of the study can be used in utilizing the research result when planning education programs in preventing female genital mutilation. The research was carried out in co-operation with a local village which is situated in South-West Kenya, and West from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital city.
Qualitative method was used to implement this study. Data was collected by interviewing four mother´s aged between 20-35 years of age, who had young daughters. The interviews were conducted between December 2010 to February 2011. The data collected was analysed by using content analysis.
The results of this study revealed that the mothers interviewed have good knowledge about the effects of female genital mutilation in general and the risks involved with its practice, although afraid of losing their culture. They were also aware of the long term and short term effects to their daughters and the unborn child, which could be as serious as leading to permanent disabilities and death. The mothers interviewed had knowledge on the signs to look for after FGM infection and to determine if medical treatment was required instead of depending on natural treatment only. Most mothers admitted use of natural treatment as well as modern medicine and other treatment methods.
They acknowledged other recommended alternatives to stop female genital mutilation, such as girl child education since their daughters had more knowledge and facts to prove why female genital mutilation was harmful to them. Additionally the study results indicated the willingness of the participants to work closely with health professionals who have better knowledge about FGM and its effects. They are also aware that FGM is illegal in Kenya and if they are caught, they are liable to prosecution.
Further research is recommended to focus on father’s opinion. The study could also provide more knowledge to the government and policy makers in raising awareness especially to mothers who have different opinions about female genital mutilation.
1.1 Background of the Study
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined as the practice that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for cultural or religious beliefs, rather than medical reasons according to Journal of Human Rights, (2017). Types of geographical location, socioeconomic status and the ethnic background. It is not always easy to distinguish who will practice which type of female genital mutilation (Journal of Human Rights 2017).
Female genital mutilation has been traced back three centuries however, it has undergone cultural transformations.
It is practiced in most African, Asian and Middle East countries with an estimated three million girls at a risk of undergoing FGM yearly, which is equivalent to 8,000 girls daily (Momoh, 2016).The various reasons proposing continuation of female genital mutilations may be categorized in to socio-cultural, psychosexual, religious and hygiene purposes and the ritual is observed to mark the coming of age where-by it is accompanied by celebrations and gifts exchange (Nursing Standard 2018).
Most of the time, victims of FGM have no knowledge about the exact day when the procedure will be carried out and sometimes they guess as the villagers may plan ceremonies the previous night. Preparations involve gifts to the girl, nourishment with food, singing songs of praise to the girls and treating her with royalty while others may have no clue. Instead they are suddenly drugged from the bed before dawn and led to a deserted area, hut, sacred tree or river (Ball 2018).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2016), Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as all procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs, whether for cultural or any other nontherapeutic reasons (World Health Organization 2016). Worldwide, government and non- governmental organizations frown at FGM having seen it as an infringement on the physical and psychosexual integrity of the female child. Kenya was said to have the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world, accounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115– 130 million circumcised women worldwide (Ogodo, 2015).
However, with increasing awareness of the complication of FGM, there is a recent ban on the practice in Kenya as a nation. The prevalence rate is therefore expected to progressively decline in the younger age groups. FGM practiced in Kenya is classified into four typesas follows; clitoridectomy or Type I, this involves the removal of the prepuce or the hood of the clitoris and all or part of the clitoris. Type II or “sunna” is a more severe practice that involves the removal of the clitoris along with partial or total excision of the labia minora. Type III (infibulation), involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and adjacent medial part of the labia majora and the stitching of the vaginal orifice, leaving an opening of the size of a pin head to allow for menstrual flow or urine (Ogodo, 2015). Type IV or other unclassified types include introcision and gishiri cuts, hymenectomy, scraping and/or cutting of the vagina, the introduction of corrosive substances and herbs in the vagina, and other forms. Consequences of female genital mutilation include increased risks of urinary tract infections, bleeding, bacterial vaginosis, dyspareunia, obstetric complications, psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc (Black, 2016). Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types (WHO, 2016). The most common type of the female genital mutilation is type 2 which account for up to 80% of all cases while the most extreme form which is type 3 constitutes about 15% of the total procedures (WHO, 2016). Types 1 and 4 of FGM constitute the remaining 5%. The consequences vary according to the type of FGM and severity of the procedure. The practice of FGM has diverse repercussions on the physical, psychological, sexual and reproductive health of women, severely deteriorating their current and future quality of life (Oduro et al., 2006; Larsen, 2002). The immediate complications include: severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, urinary complications, injury to adjacent tissue and even death. The long term complications include: urinary incontinence, painful sexual intercourse, sexual dysfunction, fistula formation, infertility, menstrual dysfunctions, and difficulty with child birth. The physical and psychological sequelae of female genital mutilation have been well highlighted in many literatures. Recently, there has been serious concern on the increased rate of transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) following this practice (WHO, 2016). The practice is also a violation of the human rights of the women and girl child. FGM categorically violates the right to health, security and physical integrity, freedom from torture and cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to life when the procedure results in death. It constitutes an extreme form of violation, intimidation and discrimination. Despite its numerous complications, this harmful practice has continued unabated, notwithstanding that Kenya ratified the Maputo Protocols and was one of the countries that sponsored a resolution at the 46th World Health Assembly calling for the eradication of female genital mutilation in all nation (Hicks, 2018).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is regrettably persistent in many parts of the world. This occurs commonly in developing countries where it is firmly anchored on culture and tradition, not minding many decades of campaign and legislation against the practice (WHO, 2018). Female genital mutilation comprises any procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reason (WHO, 2018; WHO, 2016). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide are presently living with female genital mutilation and every year about three million girls are at risk (WHO, 2018).
Mothers in our study shared the opinion of FGM having no benefits for females because of the ongoing campaigns against the practice, as well as the fact that they were being interviewed by healthcare profes- sionals, who are seen to be among the groups involved in championing the fight against FGM in the country. They also likely reported that uncircumcised females will become sexually promiscuous because this is a widely held perception in the community where our study was carried out.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to examine mothers` perspectives of female genital mutilation. Specifically but not limited to, other objectives of the study are:
- To determine whether mothers have knowledge of female genital mutilation.
- To investigate the effects of female genital mutilation on females.
- To determine whether the government is doing anything to stop female genital mutilation in Kenya.
- To determine whether mothers have a role to play to end female genital mutilation in Kenya.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions will be answered in this study:
- Do mothers have knowledge of female genital mutilation?
- What are the effects of female genital mutilation on females.
- Is the government doing anything to stop female genital mutilation in Kenya?
- Do mothers have a role to play to end female genital mutilation in Kenya?
1.5 Significance of the Study
At the completion of the study, it is believed that the study will be of great importance to the government as the study will help them formulate policy that will help prohibit or eliminate the archaic and orthodox practice of female genital mutilation, the study will also be of great importance to every parent as the study seeks to expose the dangers of female genital mutilation among female. The study will also be of great importance to students and scholars who intend to embark on a study in similar topic as the findings of the study will serve as a pathfinder to them. Finally the study will be of great importance to students, teachers and the general public as the finding will add to the pool of existing literature.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is focused on mothers` perspectives of female genital mutilation. Specifically, this study is focused on determining whether mothers have knowledge of female genital mutilation, investigating the effects of female genital mutilation on females, determining whether the government is doing anything to stop female genital mutilation in Kenya and determining whether mothers have a role to play to end female genital mutilation in Kenya.
Selected residents of a local village which is situated in South-West Kenya, and West from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital city will serve as enrolled participants for the survey of this study.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
As with any human endeavor, the researcher experienced small impediments while performing the study. Due to the scarcity of literature on the subject as a result of the discourse’s nature, the researcher incurred additional financial expenses and spent additional time sourcing for relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as during the data collection process, which is why the researcher chose a small sample size. Additionally, the researcher conducted this inquiry in conjunction with other scholarly pursuits. Additionally, because only a small number of respondents were chosen to complete the research instrument, the results cannot be applied to other secondary schools outside the state. Regardless of the limits faced throughout the investigation, all aspects were reduced to ensure the best outcomes and the most productive research.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Female Genital Mutilation:
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations:
This chapter summarizes the findings on mothers` perspectives of female genital mutilation. The chapter consists of summary of the study, conclusions, and recommendations.
5.2 Summary of the Study
In this study, our focus was on mothers` perspectives of female genital mutilation. The study is was specifically set to determine whether mothers have knowledge of female genital mutilation, investigate the effects of female genital mutilation on females, determine whether the government is doing anything to stop female genital mutilation in Kenya and determine whether mothers have a role to play to end female genital mutilation in Kenya.
The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 141 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent of a local village which is situated in South-West Kenya, and West from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital city.
Based on the findings of this study, the researcher concluded that;
- Mothers have knowledge of female genital mutilation.
- The effects of female genital mutilation on females include reproductive diseases, lower sexual drive and long term health complications.
- The government is working hard to stop female genital mutilation in Kenya.
- Mothers have a role to play to end female genital mutilation in Kenya.
Based on the findings the researcher recommends;
- Efforts of stakeholders in health should be geared towards planning and implementing aggressive programs aimed at creating more awareness on the negative effect of FGM and its practice.
- Capacity building should be organized for all cadres of health care providers to grossly know the elements of the practice of FGM and its implication to maternal and new born health. All governmental and non-governmental organizations should put hands on deck to eliminate this ugly trend. To this end, government at all levels should make policies, promulgate laws, and punish offenders of the practice of FGM and their supporters.
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