The purpose of this study was to find out mothers’ perspectives on female genital mutilation (FGM) among the Maasai community in Kenya. The aim of the study can be used in utilize the research result when planning education programs in preventing female genital mutilation. The research was carried out in co-operation with a local village which is situated in South-West Kenya, and West of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital city.
A qualitative method was used to implement this study. Data was collected by interviewing four mothers aged between 20-35 years of age, who had young daughters. The interviews were conducted between December 2010 to February 2011. The data collected was analyzed by using content analysis.
The results of this study revealed that the mothers interviewed have good knowledge about the effects of female genital mutilation in general and the risks involved with its practice, although afraid of losing their culture. They were also aware of the long-term and short-term effects on their daughters and the unborn child, which could be as serious as leading to permanent disabilities and death. The mothers interviewed had knowledge of the signs to look for after FGM infection and to determine if medical treatment was required instead of depending on natural treatment only. Most mothers admitted the use of natural treatment as well as modern medicine and other treatment methods.
They acknowledged other recommended alternatives to stop female genital mutilation, such as girl child education since their daughters had more knowledge and facts to prove why female genital mutilation was harmful to them. Additionally, the study results indicated the willingness of the participants to work closely with health professionals who have better knowledge about FGM and its effects. They are also aware that FGM is illegal in Kenya and if they are caught, they are liable to prosecution.
Further research is recommended to focus on the father’s opinion. The study could also provide more knowledge to the government and policymakers in raising awareness, especially to mothers who have different opinions about female genital mutilation.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined as the practice that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for cultural or religious beliefs, rather than medical reasons according to the Journal of Human Rights, (2007).Types of geographical location, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background. It is not always easy to distinguish who will practice which type of female genital mutilation (Journal of Human Rights 2007, 6:392-413).
Female genital mutilation has been traced back three centuries however, it has undergone cultural transformations.
It is practiced in most African, Asian, and Middle East countries with an estimated three million girls at a risk of undergoing FGM yearly, which is equivalent to 8,000 girls daily (Momoh, 2010). The various reasons proposing a continuation of female genital mutilations may be categorized into socio-cultural, psychosexual, religious, and hygiene purposes, and the ritual is observed to mark the coming of age where-by it is accompanied by celebrations and gifts exchange (Nursing Standard 2008, 43-47).
Most of the time, victims of FGM have no knowledge about the exact day when the procedure will be carried out and sometimes they guess as the villagers may plan ceremonies the previous night. Preparations involve gifts to the girl, nourishment with food, singing songs of praise to the girls, and treating her with royalty while others may have no clue. Instead, they are suddenly drugged from the bed before dawn and led to a deserted area, hut, sacred tree, or river (Baron & Denmark 2006, 339-355).
The interest in the above topic was drawn from observing that nursing has become an international profession, and all nurses have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with different cultural and religious beliefs, to offer holistic care without discrimination or stereotyping the clients. Due to immigration, cultural diversity has increased and it can never be ignored in the nursing profession especially when health may appear to be getting compromised.
The purpose of the study is to find out the mothers` perspectives on female genital mutilation among the Maasai community in Kenya. The aim of the study can be utilized in the research results in the future when planning education programs in preventing FGM.
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