The male role in female circumcision: some experiences from Kisii District
Nyakundi, Stella N
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Female Circumcisions persistent in Kisii and women and young girls are the primary players in this practice. But the practice has been considered as a health hazard and a violation of both human sexual expression and women' s rights. Yet women seem incapable of stopping it. Therefore, this study sought to investigate the role that men play in the persistence of female circumcision among the Abagusii of Kenya. The study examines male attitudes towards the practice and the socio-cultural factors responsible for their participation in female circumcision. The sample of 120 men and 30 women key informants were randomly sampled from Keumbu division, Kisii District. They were interviewed during the months of July and August, 1998. Various techniques were used in the collection of data. For the primary data, a questionnaire was used for personal interviews, mainly used to generate primary data while, other data was gathered through key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Secondary data sources were also used. Data analysis was done using percentages, grouped frequencies and cross tabulation, following the SPSS computer package. The results indicated that female circumcision is prevalent in Kisii, as the majority of the people still practice it. Men were also found to be reinforcing the persistence of the practice in various ways, which included: making decisions on whether or not a daughter has to be circumcised, fmancing the ceremony and paying fees for the initiation. The men's authority and participation are founded on their superior positions in the family by virtue of the fact that Kisii is a patriarchal society where male dominance prevails. The study further revealed that in some cases the decision as to whether or not a girl undergoes circumcision is made by both parents. Socio-cultural factors based on preservation of cultural traditions were also found to influence men's attitudes and participation in female circumcision. Thus the desire to preserve one's tradition was cited by most respondents as the single most important reason for circumcising their daughters. The majority of the people were also found to be unaware of the dangers associated with the practice. This study recommends that any efforts aimed at eradication of female circumcision must focus on both men and women and create positive awareness among the people by promoting favourable attitudes towards the abandonment of the practice.
CitationMaster of Arts in Sociology,
University of NairobiDepartment of Sociology