ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to find out mothers perspectives on female genital mutilation (FGM) among the Maasai community in Kenya. The aim of the study can be used in utilizing the research result when planning education programs in preventing female genital mutilation. The research was carried out in co-operation with a local village which is situated in South-West Kenya, and West from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital city.

Qualitative method was used to implement this study. Data was collected by interviewing four mother´s aged between 20-35 years of age, who had young daughters. The interviews were conducted between December 2010 to February 2011. The data collected was analysed by using content analysis.

The results of this study revealed that the mothers interviewed have good knowledge about the effects of female genital mutilation in general and the risks involved with its practice, although afraid of losing their culture. They were also aware of the long term and short term effects to their daughters and the unborn child, which could be as serious as leading to permanent disabilities and death. The mothers interviewed had knowledge on the signs to look for after FGM infection and to determine if medical treatment was required instead of depending on natural treatment only. Most mothers admitted use of natural treatment as well as modern medicine and other treatment methods.

They acknowledged other recommended alternatives to stop female genital mutilation, such as girl child education since their daughters had more knowledge and facts to prove why female genital mutilation was harmful to them. Additionally the study results indicated the willingness of the participants to work closely with health professionals who have better knowledge about FGM and its effects. They are also aware that FGM is illegal in Kenya and if they are caught, they are liable to prosecution.

Further research is recommended to focus on father’s opinion. The study could also provide more knowledge to the government and policy makers in raising awareness especially to mothers who have different opinions about female genital mutilation.

1. INTRODUCTION

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined as the practice that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for cultural or religious beliefs, rather than medical reasons according to Journal of Human Rights, (2007).Types of geographical location, socioeconomic status and the ethnic background. It is not always easy to distinguish who will practice which type of female genital mutilation (Journal of Human Rights 2007, 6:392-413).

Female genital mutilation has been traced back three centuries however, it has undergone cultural transformations.

It is practiced in most African, Asian and Middle East countries with an estimated three million girls at a risk of undergoing FGM yearly, which is equivalent to 8,000 girls daily (Momoh, 2010).The various reasons proposing continuation of female genital mutilations may be categorized in to socio-cultural, psychosexual, religious and hygiene purposes and the ritual is observed to mark the coming of age where-by it is accompanied by celebrations and gifts exchange (Nursing Standard 2008, 43-47).

Most of the time, victims of FGM have no knowledge about the exact day when the procedure will be carried out and sometimes they guess as the villagers may plan ceremonies the previous night. Preparations involve gifts to the girl, nourishment with food, singing songs of praise to the girls and treating her with royalty while others may have no clue. Instead they are suddenly drugged from the bed before dawn and led to a deserted area, hut, sacred tree or river (Baron & Denmark 2006, 339-355).

The interest for the above topic was drawn from observing that nursing has become an international profession, and all nurses have a responsibility to familiarize with different cultural and religious beliefs, so as to offer holistic care without discrimination or stereotyping the clients. Due to immigration, cultural diversity has increased and it can never be ignored in the nursing profession especially when health may appear to be getting compromised.

The purpose of the study is to find out the mothers` perspectives of female genital mutilation among the Maasai community in Kenya. The aim of the study can be utilised in the research results in future when planning education programs in preventing FGM.