Empowering Men to Combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Even though female genital mutilation (FGM) is outlawed by the Kenyan Constitution of 2010 as a violation of children’s rights, it persists partly due to the lack of male engagement. Men are excluded from interventions despite being perceived as the heads and decision-makers of most households, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Statistics from a released report by Unicef show that over 230 million girls and women have undergone FGM, indicating a significant increase in this practice. This calls for concerted efforts to combat this harmful practice.

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FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia for non-medical reasons, harming girls physically, psychologically, and mentally. Men hold a vital role in combating FGM. Although the practice is considered a women’s issue, it affects men indirectly because their sisters, wives, and daughters are being subjected to it.

Men participate in informal hearings and celebrations related to FGM, perpetuating and promoting the practice. However, men can also be powerful advocates for the end of FGM and can help create alternative rites of passage.

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Challenging existing gender norms requires the input of men to challenge stereotypes and promote gender equality. Men need to be encouraged to protect their daughters, mothers, and partners from the harms of FGM and actively criticize the practice.

Encouraging men to serve as champions and role models in fighting against FGM is essential. Providing safe spaces for men to have open dialogues and educate each other on protecting their sisters and daughters is crucial.

Eradicating FGM requires collective responsibility. By sensitizing the entire community, including men, and collaborating with all stakeholders, we can effectively combat FGM and promote the rights of adolescent girls and young women who are at risk of undergoing FGM.

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It is time for men to publicly condemn FGM and work towards ending this harmful practice.”