The role of religious and traditional leaders in female genital mutilation/cutting prevention : an analysis of two Kenyan NGOs

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Kress, Katia
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Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is common in many countries worldwide. This harmful practice violates women’s and girls’ rights and perpetuates discriminatory social norms. Interventions aimed at its abandonment are numerous, ranging from criminalisation, and other legal measures to education, awareness-raising, and other initiatives aimed at changing the social norms and traditions that sustain the practice. Kenya is one of the most advanced African countries in terms of prevention activities and the country has witnessed a decrease in the practice in the last few years. Yet, despite the complete criminalisation of the practice and the prohibition of medicalisation, FGM/C is still ongoing in numerous communities, pointing to the need for other approaches to ensure long-term abandonment of the practice. This study focuses on the role of religious and traditional leaders in FGM/C prevention, arguing that they can play an important role in NGO interventions aimed at changing social norms and traditions around FGM/C. Chapters 2 and 3 introduce the practice of FGM/C and present an overview of FGM/C prevention efforts. Chapter 4 zooms in on the role of religious and traditional leaders in FGM/C prevention efforts, outlining common rationales for cooperation and types of engagement. Building on this analysis, the last chapter presents an empirical analysis of two Kenyan NGOs (Amref and Men End FGM) and their cooperation with religious and traditional leaders. The conclusion sums up the analysis and raises new perspectives on the topic. Keywords: female genital mutilation/cutting, prevention, religious leader, traditional leader, Kenya, NGOs, health risks approach, gender equality approach, theological approach
Second semester University: University of Southern Denmark/Danish Institute for Human Rights
female circumcision, Kenya, prevention, NGOs, religion, culture