My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10


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Constructions of female genital cutting related to marriageability, bride price or cutting as a service provided by a traditional birth attendant locate it within an economic discourse of supply and demand that legitimises the practice. So, I will get my wealth anyway. But if you get her circumcised you can marry her off right away and get livestock and wealth quicker.

That is it. Michael, Magadi, elder, pastoralist, 4 December 4 4. Interviewees have been given fictional names to preserve their anonymity. View all notes. What else could I do? When my husband passed away, I had no cows, I owned no land. To me it was something like a business opportunity.

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Bernadette, Loitokitok, widow, former circumciser, 17 November My elder sister was promised in marriage. So, I was circumcised with my elder sister, together. Because they will prepare a ceremony. So, it will be expensive for him to circumcise me at some other time. Nancy, Magadi, teacher, 1 December If she [daughter] becomes pregnant and delivers [while being uncircumcised] I need to compensate the midwife with a goat.

Patrick, Magadi, elder, pastoralist, 5 December Why should I do this? I was born like that. God did very well. He gave me all parts of my body. Abigail, Magadi, nursing school, uncircumcised, 5 December Always He [God of the Bible] gives you something that matches your strength. The way of your strength is the way of your challenge.

It was so painful. You cannot imagine. But there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot cry, because you do not want to be seen as a coward.

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Grace, Loitokitok, widow, former circumciser, 25 November If you leave the homestead and you come back, she will sleep with other men. If you do not circumcise her, she will run away at night looking for sex like a prostitute. John, Magadi, elder, pastoralist, 2 December It is our tradition. We know this. It is true. So, if a girl who is not circumcised becomes pregnant, she is chased away … she will go to the forest where wild animals will attack her She cannot give birth in the homestead.

That cannot be.

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If she is a girl that is not circumcised but still becomes pregnant, this girl will bring disaster to the boys. So, what we normally do is to chase away the girl. William, Loitokitok, elder, pastoralist, 22 November A discourse on love, care and intimacy challenges female genital cutting by constructing it as the inability to experience the sweetness of love: Yah You see, when I look at my husband … yes, I feel like loving him … but when you are cut, that urge of sex is not there and it is that which brings a family together.

It is very important. But … mmm … it is very hard for me It takes out that urge for loving. Mary, Wamba, teacher, university education, circumcised, 7 December When you indulge in sex it does not bring you that pleasure. Yeah … they [orgasms] are not there. And that is why a Samburu man who has a woman of my age, they go and marry the second one, because they are looking for that sweetness in sex.

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They get the second one, but she is circumcised. They get a third one … They go on like that until they grow old and sometimes have fifty wives [laughing]. When a girl is cut, that is when the clitoris is cut, only the upper part is removed, meaning that some roots of the clitoris remain. So, this does not reduce the urge to have sex, but what affects girls during sex is the trauma; the psychological issue of … when I have sex, maybe I will not enjoy sex, because I am cut. That is according to teaching.

Charity, Kimana, teacher, single mother, circumcised, 23 June Based on the above analysis, in Figure 2 we outline a framework that might enable different stakeholders to locate the discourses that emerged from the data in an integrated manner. Figure 2. Discourses on female genital cutting green and counter-discourses red. As can be seen in Figure 2 , the discursive spaces in the overlapping areas of discourses and counter-discourses have been given descriptive terms.

While we do not claim that these terms comprehensively cover the dynamics present within each of these spaces, nor imply that they point to clear-cut forms of interventions, they do highlight different issues that need to be addressed in the design of more holistic programmes to eliminate female genital cutting.


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In one-on-one interviews, these same themes were frequently mentioned. One father, who was still shifting between various positions on whether female genital cutting needed to be abolished, articulated his primary goal in life in the following manner: It is simple.

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I want my daughters to live a happy life. I want them to finish their school.

Some can even become pilots if they want. I want them to do research like you are doing. So, they must go to university. I want a very good life in all my kids … also the girls. But I do not want my other daughters to run away like that … my opinion on FGM has changed … I am very close to my daughters.

However, one question that needs to be addressed in this regard is whether these rites are truly understood as alternative rites of passage and not, for example, as alternatives to rites of passage or rites of delayed passage. From observations, interviews and informal talks, it appeared that girls who underwent the alternative rites of passage did not feel themselves to be women, nor were they considered women by others.

What is the use of that? It is not the same. Peter, Magadi, elder, pastoralist, 4 December Transcendence at the discursive overlap of magical discourse and religious discourse highlights the dynamic of change, whereby Maasai or Samburu are told by pastors or missionaries not to fear the curse of their ancestors but rather the wrath of God for continuing a practice that is performed against His will. Higher order at the discursive overlap of martial-pastoralist discourse and religious discourse highlights the influence of Christianity on the most confidential of cultural practices.


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Although cultural elders, who as the guardians of tradition frequently deploy martial-pastoralist discourse, facilitate open-air sermons held at their kraals, according to one key informant, these elders stand in opposition to religious leaders on key issues such as those related to female genital cutting and moranism.

An observation that seems to underscore this difference is that preachers, even those of Maasai origin, never wore traditional attire, even when present at traditional ceremonies. Awareness at the discursive overlap of medical discourse and magical discourse highlights the possibility of interventions aimed at creating awareness of sexual reproductive health. Our kids are being taught negative things about circumcision. Why are you people telling me not to do this practice? You see, I am careful, because I fear the law.

But I have cut so many girls and I have never seen anything bad happen. Some girls bleed, but no one has died.

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All these complications you people are talking about, I have never seen it. By using discourse analysis to uncover implicit social arrangements, we were able to develop an analytic framework that engages with female genital cutting in an integrated manner. Understanding these different positions and integrating them into an overarching whole is helpful for the design of more holistic interventions. Various non-governmental organisations and governments in Africa have worked tirelessly to eliminate female genital cutting Skaine Skaine, R. Jefferson : McFarland. However, legal prohibitions and awareness campaigns about sexual reproductive health and rights have met with limited success and might even be misguided.

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As Willig Willig, C. Interventions to eliminate female genital cutting must be aligned with these frames in order to resonate with a specific target-group.

My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10 My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10
My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10 My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10
My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10 My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10
My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10 My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10
My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10 My Passage to Womanhood - Volume 10

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