•Being a midwife working in the maternity department and specifically, the labour room has been challenging due to complications arising from FGM/C.
•Around 80% of FGM/C survivors in our labour room develop child-birth-related complications; post-partum haemorrhage, obstetric tears of extensive degrees, obstructed labour and psychological trauma.
Your Excellency, I am Sadera from Narok County, a Nursing Officer working at Nairagie Enkare Health Center in Narok East sub-county.
An advocate against sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) especially female genital mutilation which is a negative social norm rampant in my community but sadly still being practised within and without.
In my community, FGM/C is a form of SGBV that is deeply rooted in the culture and is still being practised, though secretly.
Our teenagers, especially the school-going ones, are going through the practice, leading to many school dropouts, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, and increasing the risk of HIV/AIDS infections.
Being a midwife working in the maternity department and specifically, the labour room has been challenging due to complications arising from FGM/C.
Around 80% of FGM/C survivors in our labour room develop child-birth-related complications; post-partum haemorrhage, obstetric tears of extensive degrees, obstructed labour and psychological trauma.
The degree of these complications is often grievously threatening the lives of both the mothers and the newborns.
Your Excellency, the burden of FGM/C begins right from the community level where teenagers and young women are still being cut during childbirth by Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and cutters.
This has in turn resulted in a lot of home deliveries so the practice of FGM/C is carpeted under childbirth.
I have seen emergency cases of home deliveries that come with complications such as post-partum haemorrhage and infections, puerperal psychosis and even an increase in HIV/AIDS transmission.
The survivors are often brought to me in the maternity area when they are really fighting for their valuable lives a situation that could have easily been avoided by eliminating the practice of FGM/C.
FGM/C is a practice that negatively impacts all of us, from survivors to healthcare givers and even the government itself.
Your Excellency, on September 2022, I underwent training on SGBV with an emphasis on FGM/C by Africa Coordinating Centre for the Abandonment of FGM (ACCAF) and I was sufficiently equipped with knowledge about FGM/C .
I was able to learn more about the types of FGM/C, the physical, psychological and social negative impacts it has on the survivors, the medicalization of FGM/C, complications arising from FGM/C, and the fact that it’s a violation of human rights and hence an illegal act as per the laws of the Republic of Kenya.
ACCAF training enabled me to go back to my community and health facility to be a knowledgeable advocate and champion against FGM/C.
The training enabled me to provide quality care to the survivors of FGM/C at multiple service delivery points in the facility and also in the community.
I gave all facility staff feedback on FGM/C and together we charted the way forward as advocates against FGM/C in the community.
We decided to use our available monthly health outreaches to villages and educate the teenagers, elders, and TBAs about FGM/C and associated risks.
We also did several institutional and school visits to advocate against FGM/C.
From the activities herein conducted, it was clear that despite the cultural inclination of FGM/C in the community; lack of information and knowledge about FGM/C and its effects, and lack of adequate training for nurses and other healthcare workers are among the key challenges in the fight against FGM/C.
Your Excellency, Mr President, I appreciate your passion and zeal in ensuring the perfect education and well-being of young Kenyan girls.
It is my humble request to you and your able government to invest in more health facilities and training of more if not all nurses to equip them with the knowledge to be advocates against FGM/C besides gaining skills to enable them to support women who have undergone FGM.
I also request your government to join hands with other multi-agencies and organizations to enable the education of groups like TBAs on the risks of harmful cultural practices like FGM/C and work together with them towards zero FGM/C cases in Kenya. Thank you Sir!
Sadera, The Girl Generation- Support to the Africa-led Movement to End FGM/C ( [email protected] www.thegirlgeneration.org
Femi One Rapper, Lyricist and Philanthropist.