By Moseti Elisha

One of the tools used in FGM. Picture by Kataru Concepts.

Female Genital mutilation is the major factor that has largely contributed to early marriages among many school girls. Not only that, but it has also contributed to a good percentage of young girls seeking medical attention as a result of health complications caused by FGM, to some extent even loss of life. Do we stand losing anything if we stopped practicing it?

Social-cultural setups in our communities are meant to bring about solidarity, but it is our responsibility to ensure that such practices don’t undermine justice and hence affecting our young girl’s reproductive health choices.

Modernization and reconstruction of our societies do not mean abandoning our cultures but ensuring our practices are aligned also to good mental health status for our girls. FGM can trigger lifetime psychological disturbances, anxiety, somatization, phobia, and low self-esteem. It’s unnecessary and also inhuman to Subject our future generation to practices that are not meant to engender a prolific society.

We are the custodians of our cultures. That role burdens us with the duty to fight inequality.  To reduce the cultural tensions that might result from the fight against FGM, our conversations can begin at the family level. This will accelerate progress in the abandonment of the practice and also create an avenue for knowledge sharing about the consequences of FGM.

Health impacts of FGM have received different levels of attention both in terms of intervention and evidence. There is a need to communicate this evidence base to a range of stakeholders, taking into consideration that key messages are carefully crafted to ensure appropriate interpretation and guidance for action.

This approach is especially important when using this evidence for medical and behavior change intervention. Information on health consequences would be of most use in both hospital facilities & community settings.   

Furthermore, the recommended interventions for preventing and addressing FGM seek to address it as a practice rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms plus other forms of violence against women and girls. Women’s health is a human right issue and women empowerment cannot be separated from issues related to women’s health.

Moving forward, evidence to end FGM, research to help girls and women thrive, plans to collaborate with policymakers, development partners, professional regulatory bodies, trainers, and other key stakeholders to review culture and practices that are deemed sacrosanct but retrogressive and detrimental to women’s health and empowerment.

Culture is our identity and identity can be a custodial we can never escape but if indeed we want to redeem ourselves and our historical ways of life, we need to primarily try and understand our identity and use it as a foundation to grow and transform our communities.