FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is a rite of passage for many tribes in the country. Though it is illegal, some (drop "especially the") Pastoralist communities still practice it up to date. You will find girls as young as 10 years being forced to undergo the cut. There is a lot of danger associated with this outdated practice.
A Girl Can Bleed to Death
Bleeding to death as a result of FGM practices is not that uncommon. Pain and inflammation is significant, and the slow healing process sometimes results in serious infections. Further complications result from contracting diseases such as HIV due to non sterilized instruments, pain during sexual intercourse and child birth complications.
In communities that still embrace the ritual, girls are forced to undergo FGM before marriage. Most of the girls come from poor backgrounds where parents are forced to marry them off even before they reach puberty. The men cannot marry uncircumcised girls meaning that the ritual must be performed. This painful procedure is carried out in secrecy without taking into consideration the health implications to the victim. These girls, in most cases, are married off to suitors they had not chosen themselves. Educated women in such communities are now speaking out and seek support in altering societal behavior. In fear of what will happen to them, girls are crying for help to be rescued or running away. Rescue centers are crucial for these girls since they are automatically rejected by their families and communities, being viewed as outcasts.
Beading is common in the Samburu society. There are many types of beads a girl child can be adorned in but the ones that are most dangerous are the engagement beads. These are usually red in color and are given to a girl by a “suitor”, in most cases a relative. The suitor has the right to sexual favors from the girl any time he desires. These beads are given to girls as young as 6 years old. Additionally, a Samburu girl can be given to a relative in marriage or permitted to be beaded by community outsiders.
What are the Effects of Beading?
When parents allows a girl to be beaded, they are publicly consenting to their daughter to being raped. Girls have no choice but to give sexual favors to the suitors. This can result in physical damage to young girls, significant emotional distress and unwanted pregnancies. The turmoil for these girls does not end here. In these communities, they are not supposed to get pregnant before marriage. As a result, crude and very painful abortion techniques are applied when it happens. Since family planning methods are not used, many of the girls find themselves pregnant. Those who manage to hide the pregnancy are forced to discard their baby when they give birth and eaten by wild animals. Few of the babies are lucky enough to be given to strangers.
In most communities that do not embrace education, girls as young as 10 years are forced to marriage. A girl’s family receives a gift, a dowry, from the suitor's family. As such. girls are viewed as a source of wealth by many families. Most poor families will go the extra mile to search for wealthy suitors to marry their daughters. Some who might be lucky enough to attend school may be forced to quit classes to be married off.
A rite of passage has to be performed for the girl to qualify to become a woman ready for marriage. This will involve FGM among other practices. A circumcised female child is viewed as a woman who is ready for marriage regardless of the age. Sometimes these girls sometimes are married off to older men who make them their 3rd, 4th or 5th wife, subject them to all manners of cruelty because they deem the girls as their properties bought by the dowry price.
Poverty is a key factor that forces many families to subject their children to forced labor. Most Kenyan families have more than 2 children while those from poor backgrounds having more than 6 children. The older ones regardless of the age are forced to go to work so as the family can make ends meet. This opens a door for these vulnerable children who can be abused, mistreated and forced to engage in illegal practices. Families will send off their children to work in wealthy homes in disregard of the conditions and workload the kids have to put up with. Some of the work places are also unsafe such as mines, quarries and social places. Parents have also been known to sell off their children into prostitution rackets.
Due to the social ills in the society today, lack of mentors, missed education opportunities, frustrations and bad company, some children find themselves abusing drugs. Some are also employed by drug traffickers to market and supply the drugs to clients. This is not an ill that affects just the poor in the society but anyone can be a victim. Drug traffickers target children because they are an easy prey.
Children are an easy prey simply because they are weak, can be easily intimidated into silence. Some beliefs encourage sexual intercourse with minors - there is a common belief that when a HIV infected person has sex with a child, he gets cured, encouraging a barbaric act. Many sexual abuse cases involving minors go unreported and unpunished. In most cases, the culprit is well known to the minor. This can be a relative, close family friend, neighbour or person of authority. Children are threatened into silence and the ordeal can go on for an extended time before someone notices. In cases where close family members are involved, the family may choose to keep the situation concealed fearing shame and prejudice from the community. They do not take care of the needs of the abused child who ends up with emotional wounds and/or sexually transmitted diseases.