Reviewing back on where we were a year ago with this work, to what we have done and seen on this trip we have seen some areas of progress and changing attitudes, and some where there is still lots of development work to do.
In both il Polei Primary and Secondary, and Kiwanja Ndege Primary Schools we are seeing more girls staying in school and receiving an education. It would be naïve to think that these girls had not been cut. As Benjamen explained how Daniel and he, together with their elder brother Robert, protected their sister from being cut to groups of 25-30 boys and girls at Kiwanja Ndege. The girls swarmed around him at the end, asking where they could get support and assistance within their local area from health professionals because they were concerned about their health. It confirmed what we had suspected. Whilst it may be too late for these girls to avoid being cut, I explained in their FGM talk that they are the first of their generation to receive education, use it wisely. The girls and boys know what FGM is. They know what the consequences are. It is down to them, with support, to act for change within their community and make sure that their little sisters, nieces, female cousins and daughters do not get cut. A generation back these boys and girls would not have had the education to know this. The other area of change, were that some schools were providing safe spaces for girls to stay, who were at risk of FGM for free. Teachers were speaking to the girls’ parents and educating them on the dangers of FGM, so that the girls could return back to live with their family safely. A year ago, it was only the “One More Day” center which was providing these safe spaces in the area where we were based.
However, there was still areas where the support is needed for the Maasai Cricket Warriors. The frustration of not being able to coach at one of the schools, because the Director was saying that we should not be coming in to change the traditions of another community smacked with ignorance. A lack of understanding that it was actually the Maasai guys who wanted to bring change to their own community appeared to pass him by. Interestingly, the Director of that school was not Maasai. He was not even Kenyan. This is not the end of the story with that school.
The other area of development in this trip was the realisation that FGM was not just an ‘African’ issue. With patterns of migration the way it is, FGM can no longer be stated as an African, Asian and Middle Eastern issue. FGM is a global issue, and it’s happening on our doorstep in the UK. Currently around 2,000 girls in Manchester are currently at risk of FGM. In the UK 60,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM. The introduction of FGM Protection Orders last year in the UK to prevent girls from being sent to countries where FGM is legal practice came into effect. What this has conversely done is bring the cutters’ work to the UK, as FGM kits are being sent over to facilitate the practice in this country. The next story for both CWB working in partnership with the LCCC Foundation, is to begin the education in this country so that the girls here in the UK can also be supported and also receive support, so that we can continue to end the practice of FGM.
CWB’s work here supporting our partners’ work, both in Kenya with the Maasai Cricket Warriors and the UK with LCCC Foundation, together with 28 Too Many has only just begun.
CWB FGM Lead