Female circumcision its persistence among the Abagusii of Kenya
Nyansera, B K
The purpose of this study was to establish the reasons behind the continued
practice of female circumcision, This practice has been discouraged in the past
but some communities in Kenya have continued practicing it despite the
mounting pressure to abandon the practice. For instance, the surgical operation
and the associated rituals have been regarded as harmful to the physical and
psychological well-being of the initiates. This has made little impact on this
The practice of female circumcision has lived for some millennia and
is believed to have started in ancient Egypt. One of the aims of this study
was determine whether female circumcision was still prevalent and intact as
it used to be in traditional times. A further concern was to establish what
forces had sustained it and whether it served the same functions as it did in
the traditional society. It was also important to determine whether those who
practised female circumcision were aware of its implications to health, and if
so, whether these discouraged this practise. The impact of the ban and the
sensitization campaigns which had been launched against the practice were
A field study that was aimed at fulfilling the study objectives outlined
above was carried out in Kisii District which is among the category of
'highest in prevalence'. Samples of both urban and rural Kisii were selected
using the cluster sampling method. More than 200 households were selected
using stratified random sampling method. The household was the unit of
analysis and the views of the mother represented those of the household.
More primary data were generated using key informants, direct observations
and focus group discussions.
The data analysed into cumulative frequencies and percentages using
simple statistical techniques. These were synthesized into tables and were used
as a basis for explaining the cause of the continued practise of female
The major fmdings showed that the practice was equally prevalent in
both rural and urban samples. The Abagusii were determined to continue
practising female circumcision. Moreover, the surgical operation, the
accompanying ceremonies, rituals, and education had changed significantly.
Other parts of the ritual had been left out altogether.
The traditional roles of providing prestige, status,and stamina tests to the
initiates were not applicable beyond the participant's horizon. It did not work
towards national cohesiveness. The practice was reinforced and sustained by
One of the main findings of the study was that several people were
awarethat female circumcision could cause health problems to the initiates but
were not aware of the extent of the harm. The damage made to their health
did not warrant their decisions against the practice, which they felt was
transcendental, and could be passed on to their children. Consequently, there
existed a traditional explanation for every ailment or complication that
affected the initiates after the surgical operation.
The study further revealed that the Abagusii are aware of the campaigns
that had been launched against the practice of female circumcision. However,
many of them felt that the practice was discouraged without a valid reason.
Health as a basis for discouraging the practice was not seriously considered.
They asserted that the practice had existed since time immemorial, even during
the time when hospitals to nurse the sick were non-existent. It did not affect
the initiates. It was predicted that it will take long before the practice was
abandoned.This period could be shortened if the government was stringent on ...•-
discouraging the practice. Subsequently, those who practise should be given
plausible reasons for abandoning the customary practice.
It was concluded that since those who practise female circumcision were
determined to continue, they may do so, but on condition that they take
appropriate precautions to protect the health of those circumcised. It was
recommended, for example, that the circumcisers should be trained on the art
and be required to use sterile kits and devices. Other recommendations were
that: campaigns should educate people about the primary and secondary
complications that result from the operation.; and the traditional education
component should be promoted.
Areas which needed further research included the question whether there
was a relationship between clitoridectomy and female libido. The results
would establish whether teenage girls who are in school could be provided
with contraceptives, to avert teenage pregnancies as well as information to
help them discourage the practice of female circumcision
The University of Nairobi
Female circumcision; Abagusii of Kenya
Type of publication|
Nairobi - University of Nairobi
Added to C-A: 2022-10-10;09:00:59|
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