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Friday, October 23, 2009

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: the Necessity to Include Men

October 23, 2009 - Dadaab (refugee camp), Kenya
by Eirin

In Dadaab refugee camps, up to 97 % of all women have undergone either sunna (type II) or infibulation (type III). The Somali community is known to practise infibulation, popularly known as ‘Pharaonic’. [...] Eradication of FGM/C in the Dadaab refugee camps was hampered by lack of support from men. The involvement of men in tackling the challenge is critical because they are the custodians of culture and gate keepers on religious issues. Indeed women believe that their daughters should be circumcised for men to accept them for marriage. On the other hand men dreaded the stigma of marrying uncircumcised girls and therefore reinforced the need to have them cut. In a baseline survey done by CARE in 2006, 43% of respondents agreed that men should not marry women who have not gone through FGM/C whereas 52% disagreed. To respond to the FGM/C challenge, CARE made FGM/C prevention and response initiatives a major component of the SGBV programme. Some of the strategies used to curb FGM/C are use of religious scholars from reputed institutions like SUPKEM to persuade religious leaders in the camps to advocate against the practice. The religious scholars initiate dialogue with religious leaders to delink FGM from religion. Support groups such as Men Against FGM (MAF) and One Man Can Teach that bring together positive deviants among men were also used to tackle the challenge. Male youth in camps have similarly been targeted for behaviour change communication strategies such as intergenerational debates, advocacy campaigns participation in calendar events and sports, and participatory education theatre (PET). Information, education and communication materials like t-shirts and caps targeting men were also used [...].