Bridget’s story: saying no to FGM.
Feb 6, 2018
Today, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, join us as we stand with Bridget and everyone working to end this harmful practice around the world.
Three years ago, in Kenya, 15-year-old Bridget had the courage to say no to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM); a harmful practice that causes serious physical and psychological harm, and which also often leads to girls stopping school and entering early or forced marriage. Bridget, however, was lucky. According to the UN:
“Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.”
FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. So today, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, join us as we stand with Bridget and everyone working to end this harmful practice around the world.
With the obvious negative effects – it seems like it should be an easy decision to say no to FGM. But, for Bridget, and millions of women and girls around the world – who live in communities where FGM is seen as a ‘rite of passage’, and where girls who are ‘un-cut’ are often seen as being ‘dirty’ and consequently unable to marry – saying no can mean losing your community, your family and friends. It can be alienating and dangerous.
That’s why working with a whole community is vital to ending FGM; from working with girls, boys, parents, village elders, teachers, schools, religious leaders and local politicians. They all play a crucial part in supporting girls like Bridget to have the courage to say no.
For example, Bridget’s parents were scared of being excluded from the community and wanted to receive the dowry from their daughter’s marriage, and so they had mixed feelings about whether Bridget should have FGM. But, with the support of Feed the Minds’ anti-FGM project in Kenya that has a whole community education approach, attitudes in their community are changing.
Bridget’s parents decided to stand by her decision to say no, which has meant Bridget was able to stay in school. She is now in high school and looking at going to university to build a bright future for herself. However, without her parents’ support, her decision would have been really difficult, and could ultimately have involved either giving in to FGM or having to run away from home.
Take yourself back to being between 11 and 16 years old – could you face this impossible choice alone, potentially with no support from your parents, teachers or community?
All community members need to work together to end FGM: girls need support from their parents, parents need support from their families and friends, and the community needs support from its leaders. In fact, it is all of our responsibilities. Even from the UK you can play your part: you can make a donation, help to raise awareness, take part in campaigns, petitions, and more.
As Cess Kui Mugo, who works in Kuria, Kenya, for one of our local partner organisations, The Education Centre for the Advancement of Women (ECAW), said:
“It shall take all of us to achieve an FGM free Kuria.
“Working together with everyone in the community, and acknowledging every members’ contributions to ending FGM, has led us to achieve the decrease we are seeing in the number of girls undergoing FGM, which is our hope for the day and as an organization we continue to capitalize on this.
“As we mark this day as one of the many organizations working in Kuria to end FGM, we are encouraged by the strides we and the community have made over the past years. We are motivated by the change we are currently seeing in Kuria. The community has made some huge steps towards FGM abandonment.”
We would like to thank The Church of Scotland Guild for their fundraising, practical and prayerful support since 2015 for our project in Kuria, Kenya.