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New Ritual Shifts Focus from FGM to Education

In Kenya, a program focusing on education and women’s camaraderie is emerging as an alternative to the traditional rite of passageÑfemale genital mutilation (FGM). Known as “Ntanira Na Mugambo” or “Circumcision Through Words,” the weeklong program of counseling, training and education teaches young women about personal health, reproduction, hygiene, self-esteem, communication and problem-solving. The process, which incorporates duties from a relative or friend, called the “godmother” or supporter, culminates in a graduation ceremony on a scheduled “coming of age” day.

Since Ntanira Na Mugambo was jointly initiated in August 1996 by Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization of Kenya and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), at least 300 women have experienced this alternative to FGM, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. This new rite aims to eliminate the inhumane practice of traditional genital mutilation and improve women’s health and quality of life.

Every year, two million women worldwide undergo FGM. The practice is commonplace in at least 26 of 43 African countries, “according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sources:

San Francisco Chronicle 9/16/98;WomensEnews 4/8/03