It is usually after FGM that girls will start to take note of their bodies.
In my line of work I interact with young girls a lot. I wish to empower these girls as much as possible so that they can uncover their worth and hold themselves in high esteem. However, there is often a big challenge in as far as girls and the perceptions of themselves and their bodies are concerned.
First, like many other parts of the world, the girl child is considered as secondary to the boy child. This concept has been bought and adopted by the girls so much that it affects how they view themselves. It is easier and better with younger girls who are yet to understand these societal dynamics. They hold themselves in high regard and value and know that they are just as good as the boys. It is usually after FGM that girls will start to take note of their bodies.
The songs sung at them during the cut and the lessons they get during the cut give them their initial understanding of their bodies.
They are taught to let their bodies at the disposal of the boys.
They are taught to make themselves beautiful for the boys to admire.
They are taught to submit themselves to the desire of the boys.
When they grow up, the boys become the men in their lives. It is quite unfortunate that most of the girls hold this expectation deeply at the back of their mind.
Before they undergo FGM, the girls’ attitudes toward their own bodies is largely blank. It is unfortunate that unlike other parts of the world where parents take time and effort to reinforce the children’s understanding of themselves, this is hardly the case in my community. Children are born and they grow in a blank slate of mind without really knowing themselves. For instance, most girls I have dealt with do not know that it is wrong to be touched in an inappropriate way by not only by a man or boy, but anyone else if it is not necessary. It so happens that they do not know that it is wrong for them to be cut because they do not understand their physic or how they should be treated.
The girls respect their bodies. However, this is not a conscious state for the girls, but rather as a circumstance of events. Girls grow up in strict homesteads where they are given a strict code of behavior by their parents, especially the mother. They have to adhere to these rules otherwise face the wrath of the parents. This explains why whenever they get a little freedom away from the eyes of their parents, they end up pregnant and in all forms of indecent behavior.
The girls cannot say no to FGM if they do not respect their bodies.
We try so much to help the girls discover their worth.
We instill in them the pride of a girl and the essence of a woman.
We empower them to say no to FGM.
Grace Morungi työskentelee Solidaarisuuden kumppanijärjestön Manga Heartin asiantuntijana Keniassa.