This is an important vital part of our work as in most families in Pokot where FGM prevails men remain the decision makers so that they decide when a girl is ready for "circumcision" and then marriage. The girl will be sold and married off to a much older man , not of her choosing. She will then drop out of school and begin the life of a wife and mother whilst still a child herself.
Many problems may then occur especially during childbirth when there is an increased risk of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Due to the tender age of the girl, yes the girl for she is not yet a woman, her pelvis is not fully grown and therefore may not accommodate the baby as it attempts to pass though the pelvis. The damage caused can result in trauma to the bladder and a fistula is formed so that urine continually leaks uncontrollably out of the vagina. After a much prolonged labour the baby is often dead by the time the girl reaches a health facility, or severely brain damaged. This tragic condition often leaves the girl or young woman socially isolated as her husband may decide to abandon her and she is unable to go back home.
We have helped several girls and young women to access services to have the fistula repaired.
The video below shows the senior village Elder in 2018 swearing an oath against FGM during the closing ceremony of the girls alternative rite of passage (ARP) graduation. This oath conveys a powerful message to the community that FGM must end. In general the community are loathe to break the oath in case bad luck follows.