Members’ contributions to the ARP discussion
To emphasize the role of community participation for the success of ARPs, Bertine Pries from Amref underlined that within the past decade, 17,000 girls in the Maasai and Samburu communities have gone through the ARP program, which would not have been possible if cultural decision-makers and community gatekeepers had not taken ownership and leadership of the fight against FGM/C.
To learn more about Amref’s work: article’s link
Maria Väkiparta from International Solidarity Foundation briefly presented their work plan in the Kenyan Kisii community. It was noted that providing information about the law and the negative health and social consequences of FGM does not immediately change people’s attitudes and behavior against the practice especially if they do not have any materiality in their own lives or if there is not any alternative to ensure the community’s acceptance and marriageability of the girls. In 2019, the mid-term programme evaluation highlighted the need to implement ARP to replace FGM.
Through ARP, community members will be involved in deciding the best rite of passage for the girls, drawing from the valued cultural practices, and engaging the custodians of culture – such as elderly women and men – to teach good morals and teach on the negative effects of FGM. The plan is to mainstream ARP into the holiday mentorship program for girls at risk, organized by ISF’s local partners Manga Heart and CECOME, and to utilize the ISF-led Muungano Gender Forum to gain local ownership and wider community support for the efforts.
However much of a good solution the ARPs might be, there is a need to understand the community dynamics and to mobilise in order for it to really accept the change as a new way of initiating girls into puberty instead or practicing FGM. Sheikh, whilst she has not any direct experience of ARP’s implementation, noted, on the base of research evidences, the importance to learn from other social norms’ changing process. “ARPs should incorporate all the steps of norms change where we need shifts in scripts and narratives holding this practice in place, change in perceptions and support for FGM and above all whole community mobilization towards the desired change.” She expressed her concern about instances where uncut girls were not able to fit back in the community and to get married. This could put so much pressure on them that they end up being cut. Finally, she underlines the importance of considering community’s dynamics, especially cross-borders’ communities giving the example of the Kuria community. “When the Kurias in Kenya did public declarations about abandonment of FGM, they were ‘summoned’ by the Tanzanian counterparts. Apparently the community traditional leadership hierachy has its highest in TZ.”
ARP ceremonies have clear guidelines but do come with their fair of challenges as well in various communities. For instance, when it might be harder to convince them to support the abandonment. Sam Jazairi from Respect for Change reported having this issue in the Bukira clan of the Kuria community in Kenya. They tried and failed twice to implement an ARP. According to him, the political, social, economical and geographical context can have an influence in ARP’s success.
“Kajiado county seems to be a positive example of a region where FGM is going to be eradicated before it happens in other regions! Maybe because it is closer to Nairobi and many organizations have put a lot of efforts in the region, add to that having an active governor and first lady in the office right now ( Mr Joseph and Mme Edna). Those APR can be a good Tactic to have a change in the people’s behavior there and substitute what they have with something can do the job but with no harm to the girls.”
Maryam comes from a community where ARP are not implemented so maybe rephrase ?
Rephrase as this sounds like the elders benefit from the GIRLS : where elders support the continuation of FGM ? or benefit from the fact that girls undergo FGM – in which ways do the elders benefit, maybe add mention of that so it’s clearer?
« The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation » is part of the « Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM » project, supported by the « UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM ».
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