Most men from FGM practicing clans don’t marry uncut women

Orchid Project CEO Asenath Mwithigah. She says men have been enablers of FGM because they hold power in most practising communities. 

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • Orchid Project CEO Asenath Mwithigah, says men are at the centre of cultural practices such as FGM.
  • Leshan Kereto encourages men to speak up and rescue girls who are at risk of undergoing FGM.
  • Founder of Men end FGM says the practice remains prevalent because stakeholders have only addressed women and girls.

This year’s theme for commemorating the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a call to action to all men and boys.

For a practice that has been deemed to only affect women and girls, stakeholders are now debunking this narrative and rallying men to be partners in the fight against FGM.

Chief Executive Officer at Orchid Project Asenath Mwithigah, told Nation.Africa in an interview that men are at the centre of cultural practices such as FGM.

“Men have been enablers because they hold power in most practising communities. They are the cultural and religious leaders in these spaces and majority of them do not want to get married to women who have not been cut,’’ Ms Mwithigah stated.

She elaborated that most men are not sensitised on the negative effects of FGM or even how it affects them.

“Men married to circumcised women who later on develop medical complications such as fistula and keloids, have to foot hefty medical bills that would have been avoided. Moreover, since most FGM survivors do not undergo psychosocial support, there is a lot of projection of trauma and stress in families that could lead to intimate partner violence. This also affects boys and men,” Ms Mwithigah said.

Instead of implementing siloed approaches where only women and girls are engaged, front liners like Ms Mwithigah want men and boys to take the lead in elimination of FGM.

Leshan Kereto, the chairperson at UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel explains how this can be achieved.

Leshan Kereto, the chairperson at UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel. 

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

“We have to create safe spaces for men and boys so that they can be equal stakeholders as women in eliminating the cut. Since most of them are already leaders in their communities, they already have powerful platforms where they can educate themselves and others, on the effects of FGM,’’ Mr Kereto says.

He also encourages men to speak up and rescue girls who are at risk of undergoing FGM.

For Tony Mwebia, Founder of Men end FGM, the practice remains prevalent because stakeholders have only addressed women and girls.

He notes that because FGM takes place in vast communities that some organisations cannot even reach, the whole community should be involved in its eradication through changing attitudes and beliefs.

Tony Mwebia, Founder of Men end FGM. 

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

“This can be achieved by teaching young boys about FGM from a very early age. It should even be included in school curriculums. This will raise a generation of men who are already FGM champions,’’ Mr Mwebia added.

He further opines that ,  “there should be interventions around boy child issues such as mental health that also address FGM .This is so that all genders can understand that we are not only addressing women and girls.’’

Ms Mwithigah, however, insists that for men and boys to be involved, there should be a shift in attitudes that paint FGM as only a women and girls’ issue.

“It is true that women are most affected, however, as long as FGM is embedded in culture in our patriarchal society, we will not make much progress when men and boys are not included. Women and girls do not live in isolation, we have to involve everybody ’’she concluded.


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