New Discussion : What works and what doesn’t – Strategies to end FGM : Alternative Rites of Passage

Over the past few decades, efforts to end FGM have increased and new, more or less innovative and successful, solutions have been imagined and put in place. During this discussion, we will focus on specific strategies implemented to fight against FGM. More than just speaking in terms of good and bad practices, the objective is to highlight lessons learnt and discuss their effectiveness. 

               As we know, the term FGM comprises diverse and multiple practices. Their significance and the motives justifying the practices vary from one community to another. The socio-cultural context as well as economic and political factors specific to each community must be considered when imagining the strategies to fight against FGM. A single and unique solution, effective in every community, simply doesn’t exist. As has already been pointed out in previous discussions within the CoP FGM, a holistic methodology which includes legal, political, medical sectors and adopts a grass-root approach, is absolutely essential in order to fight against FGM and its multiple drivers. Nevertheless, this discussion aims at highlighting some of the specific strategies that are implemented to put an end to FGM.

Firstly, we chose to focus on Alternative Rites of Passage. In many communities FGM is practiced as an initiation into womanhood, guaranteeing a girl’s marriageability. It is seen as proof of her strength and bravery and allows her to gain respect of other women. In this way, alternative rites of passage aim to offer a harmless alternative to FGM while fulfilling the function that FGM has in some communities: to mark the passage from childhood to womanhood.

AMREF, an NGO implementing ARP in Kenya, and they describe the strategy as follows :
« ARP offers training that sensitises local communities on the dangers of FGM/C, building consensus toward a collective decision to abandon it. The new ritual combines the traditional ceremony with sexual and reproductive health education, and the promotion of girls’ education. The ARP ceremony is marked by two days of lessons on community values and traditions, sexuality and sexual health issues, and life skills.« 

To learn more about alternative rites of passage, you can read the thematic note associated :

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