Factors that differentiate women who have indergone female genital cutting and those who have not: a case of Igembe South District
The study looked into the factors that differentiate women who have undergone female genital cutting and those who have not in igembe south district. The study focused on the women aged 20-24 years. FGC is a practice that links families to social status. It is deeply entrenched in the traditions of the communities that practice it and is meant to increase their 'daughter's beauty, her honour, her marriageability, her social status and her chastity' www.unicef.org. Igembe south is one of the districts in kenya where FOC has been rampant The study was guided by five research questions namely: What is the extent of spread of FOC and how is it changing? What reasons do the women and men give for supporting or not supporting the practice? What are the socio-cultural, economic and psychological factors that diferentiate women who have undergone FOC from those who have not? Who are the major actors in deciding when and how FOC should be carried out and on who should participate in the initiation? What are the ongoing efforts and challenges for the eradication of the practice? Structural Functionalist, cultural lag and Feminist theory were used to enhance the study. The study revealed that although Igembe people still practice FOC many of them feel that it is outdated and has no meaning. The research confirmed that there are differences between women who have undergone FOC and those who have not. The study established that the decision for a girl to undergo FOC has traditionally been made by the mother or the grandmother, although these days the girl can decide otherwise. The research established that the key actors in deciding when and how FOC should be carried out and who should participate in the initiation are the mother, the individual woman! girl and the grand mothers. The research used qualitative research method. The primary data was obtained from 167 women aged 20-24 years. Questionnaires were used to obtain the data. The key informants were also interviewed to get vital information for the study. These key informants included: three selected members of 'Njuri Nceke' (Council of Elders), one representative of MYWO, one female sponsor, one local administrative assistant chief, one female circumciser and a representatives of NGOs that are anti- FGC. Three focus group discussions were held for further information. These included an FGD for older women (age 35-45, an FGD for younger women (aged 25-35), and an FGD for male adults (age 35-50). The data was collected from respondents in Maua town, Liliaba, Kiengu, Kiegoi, and Kimongoro locations of Igembe South district. Quantitative data' was analyzed using the statistical package for social scientists (SPSS). The study revealed that 40.1 % of the women aged 20-24 years have undergone female genital cutting. The study also established that the differences between women who have undergone FGC and those who have not include: girls who have been initiated easily drops out of school while those who have not mostly complete schooling. Girls who have been initiated easily socialize with others in the society including in-laws while those who have not are careful when socializing with others for fear that they may be exposed that they have not been initiated. Those who have undergone the cutting have less sexual sensitivity and many of them do not easily exercise extramarital sex while those who have not are romantic and better during copulation and easily goes outside marital vows for intimate relationships with opposite sex. Those who are initiated have difficulties during child birth while those not initiated have fewer difficulties during child birth. Due to lack of education and enlightenment those who are keen to observe FGC continue in backwardness and this mostly has negative implications on the family's economic status while due to increased levels of literacy, the families economic status is better for those not practicing FGC. Fear and doubts are lodged in the women who have not been initiated but show respect for all while those initiated show a lot of confidence and mostly look down on those who have not undergone FGC including their teachers who are in this category. The study further established that Girls whose mothers have gone beyond primary education have not undergone genital cutting. The research concluded that education is basically necessary in eradication of FGC.