An assessment of the role of communication in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya
The practice of FGM is still widespread among some communities in Kenya, especially the Kisii (96%) despite communication efforts aimed at eradicating the practice. This study sought to . assess the reasons for these high prevalence levels despite widespread awareness of the consequences. Communication efforts aimed at fighting FGM have largely succeeded in raising awareness regarding the dangers of the practice, but failed to effect attitude change essential in abandoning the practice. This is attributable to the tendency by communication experts to disregard beliefs and practices of communities in such campaigns. The lack of community involvement and ownership is also a main reason for failure of the campaigns to persuade people into abandoning FGM. The use of both mass media and interpersonal channels of communication is essential in eradicating female circumcision. While mass media channels (radio, television, newspapers) are important in sensitising the community about the dangers of FGM, interpersonal channels (elders, chiefs and religious leaders) are important in persuading the communities to abandon the practice and embrace other rites of passage. Community involvement in the campaigns is also important. Empowering communities to find solutions that respond to their circumstances without antagonising their cultural norms, standards and values is at the core of this. In essence, this study argues that communication campaigns aimed at eradicating FGM have largely succeeded in raising awareness of its dangers but failed to translate this widespread awareness into massive abandonment of the practice. This study suggests that other methods of communicating the message are necessary, and the use of interpersonal channels is vital to the eradication of FGM in Kenya.