When I first heard about the Female Genital Mutilation practices in Africa from a friend, I was shocked and deeply saddened. I decided to learn more about this by visiting the villages, talking to medical professionals, social activists, and women and girls who have undergone FGM. I also met those who perform female circumcision in rural villages and heard their stories.
The more I learned about the extent of these practices and the suffering and frequent death caused by FGM, the more I was motivated to do something to eliminate such cruel practices. The details of these practices are horrifying, especially considering the loss of lives of innocent girls and the life-long medical and emotional problems that result for the surviving women. In the Wajir district where we conduct our program, 100% of the women have been mutilated. Every woman who performed circumcisions that I spoke with, told me stories of young girls who have died during the procedure. Often it was the first time they had spoken openly about their experiences.
I have heard directly from the women who perform circumcisions how they use
kitchen knives, razor blades, tree thorns, and glue for the procedure. They are neither medical professionals, nor have they had any education in human anatomy. Speaking directly with the women and girls, I saw a reason to be optimistic about the opportunities for change. After discussing my visit with the Triple Gem staff, we decided to put together a program to help. We want to empower the local women and help them voice their concerns and pain, as well as to provide the necessary guidance and resources to end this suffering.
At the moment, we are supporting a program in the city of Wajir in Kenya. Wajir is a semi-arid area near the Somalia-Kenya border. I have visited this area three times to implement and oversee some of our programs and to get an update on the progress.
Our programs include: Promoting awareness of the harmful effects of FGM by educating the community and working with medical professionals. Many successful seminars about these issues have been held separately for women, for men, for high school boys and girls and Muslim religious leaders and for the women who perform circumcision as a profession.
Working with religious leaders to spread the message and seeking their support and participation in the programs to end FGM. Encouraging the women who perform circumcision to stop the practice and join the mothers against FGM and increasing the membership of mothers against FGM.