The attitudes of Masaai parents towards alternative rites of passage of girls in central division, Narok county, Kenya
This study sought to investigate the attitudes of Maasai parents towards the alternative rites of passage (ARP) of young girls as opposed to female genital cutting. The study had three objectives: To establish the influence of cultural practices on attitudes among parents about alternative rites of passage of young Maasai girls; to investigate the impact of the formal education of parents on alternative rites of passage and also to establish the influence of the community on the attitudes of parents on alternative rites of passage of young Maasai girls. The objectives were guided by the social bond theory which attempts to explain why individuals choose to conform to conventional norms. Data were collected using unstructured interviews, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. A total of 50 individuals were drawn from three sub-locations, namely, Siabei, Ilmashariani and Olopito, and were subjected to unstructured questionnaires. The research also conducted three Focus Group Discussions consisiting of 10 participants each (with men, women and girls) and conducted indepth interviews with 10 key informants. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used in the analysis of the quantitative data generated from the questionnaires while the qualitative information was analysed thematically along the lines of the study objectives. The information has been presented in the form of tables and percentages in relation to the research objectives and in verbatim quotes where necessary to amplify the voices of the informants and focus group discussions participants. The study found that firstly, parents are well versed with the alternative rites of passage but they feel that the program is too formal and that the spearheaders have not involved them actively. Secondly, the community has extensive attachment to the cultural values in which FGM/C find acceptance and processes of instituting ARPs are not easily acceptable. In terms of the distinction between the educated and uneducated parents, the study reveals that educated parents have a positive attitude towards alternative rites of passage compared to their uneducated counterparts. The study concluded that members of the Maasai community are key in the fight against female genital cutting since their input is significant in the abandonment of the practice. According to the research, parents are not being engaged actively in the alternative rites of passage programmes by both the government and other agencies. The government together with the non-governmental organizations need to be friendlier in their alternative rites of passage outreach programmes.