Kenya: Elders Outlaw FGM After Watching Gory Video


Emotions ran high at the Men-End-FGM training camp in Tana Delta as elders from five communities that practice female genital mutilation (FGM) came face to face with the reality of the brutal cultural practice.

For the first time, the elders watched a video footage of how the cut was performed on a seven-year-old girl, overpowered by five women.

As the “surgeon” cut through the flesh with a blunt knife and a razor blade without any form of anaesthesia, the elders were moved to tears.

Others could not continue watching and walked out of the room shaking their heads in disgust; a sign that they had seen enough, hence the practice had to be banned by all means.

“I thought our women were just doing a simple practice to these children. I never imagined it would be worse than skinning a cow, I feel depressed,” said Ijema Godana.

Mr Ijema, who chairs the Orma community Council of Elders in Tana Delta, said many men in the village do not know what he had seen, and if they had watched the footage, none would wish to marry a circumcised woman.

He said that whereas men in the community allowed the practice to go on, the women in charge lied about the procedure.

“They told us they only touch the tip of the clitoris; that is not what I have seen in the video. If a woman in her right mind can do what I have watched today, then that woman is capable of murder,” he said.

Some of the elders went mute after watching the video, their heads buried in their hands as others covered their eyes with their face masks.

Deep down in their hearts, anger against the cut boiled, and it would erupt at the village square shortly after the training, when they convened a meeting with women from the Malakoteni community.

The community mainly comprises the Ilwana tribe, which practises infibulation type of FGM, where the entire organ is severed and a pinhole space left for the man to force entry during intercourse.

The women in this community have always pleaded with their men to abandon the practice, but the Council of Elders would hear none of it. After watching the traumatising footage, however, Shaush Balagha, the chairperson of the Ilwana community instantly changed his mind.

“It is sad, if that is what you have been doing to these girls in the name of packaging them for marriage. We don’t want any more of it,” he said as he addressed the women who cheered with joy.