Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- About 90 percent of primary school girls in the southern Kenyan districts of Kisii and Gucha have been subjected to female genital mutilation, according to a study by a local NGO.
The report prepared by the Programme of Appropriate Technology in Health, or PATH, further identifies FMG as a major cause of marital problems among spouses in communities where the practice is common.
"Over 90 percent of school-going age girls, mainly between 6 and 10 have undergone female genital mutilation," the survey indicated.
The report, developed from a series of workshops attended by community workers and teachers, was presented Wednesday at a workshop on FMG held at Kisii town, about 400 km south-west of Nairobi.
Hellen Kombo, Secretary of the Kisii branch of "Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation", a women's socio-economic, cultural and development group, said FMG has persisted among some Kenyan communities because of wrongly held myths surrounding the tradition.
"Some of us were warned that we risked missing husbands if we fail to undergo the ritual, and that we may even be unable to raise a family," Kombo said.
She said that, contrary to the "lies peddled", there was no element of truth in this beliefs.
Kombo affirmed that "every cultural practice at one time or another becomes archaic".
"We have to discard female circumcision since we do not want to subject our daughters to the same sexual problems we have encountered in our marriages," she declared.
Kombo expressed fears that if allowed to continue, FGM could turn out to be one of the avenue for HIV/AIDS infection among young girls.
Though no statistics had been worked out to verify the exact number of girls infected with HIV as a result of FMG, Kombo said there was danger, as in most ceremonies, the tools used in the ritual were used on more than one girl.
In a related development, a traditional circumcision ceremony for boys in western Kenya set for mid-August may not be successfully held because many parents fear their children could be infected with HIV/AIDS.
According to media reports in Nairobi, the parents are opposing the use of a single knife to circumcise over 15,000 boys from the Maragoli community.
However, some traditionalists argue that sharing of knives during circumcision does not pose any health risk to the initiates.
"If a parent is known to be suffering, or has died of AIDS, then their children should not be circumcised.
otherwise the sharing of knives does not pose any danger because it had been done in recent years" a die-hard traditionalist, Newton Kisia told the East African Standard newspaper.
However, those who are scared of the prospect of their children getting infected with the HIV/AIDS during the rite, are saying the old age tradition of circumcising their sons communally should be discarded.
"We have to face up to the reality.
The danger of infection is real and we should find an alternative way to that of sharing knives," John Okoyo, a middle aged man, whose two sons are candidates says.
Area chief, Richard Kagoni, while downplaying the fears over the safety of the initiates, told the Newspaper that the community wants the ceremony to be done the traditional way.
Kagoni said the circumcisers would use between 12 and 20 sterilised knives.
The initiates will also receive anti- tetanus jabs prior to the rite, while for the first time, the circumcisers will be wearing sanitary gloves.
A Medic, James Otieno says that HIV transmission would be minimised if the above measures are observed, although it is possoble these could be ignored given the large number of people involved.
"Circumcisers usually work with speed as they want to cut as many children as possible.
Ours say they can cut up to 3,000 a day.
Will that be possible with these requirements.
and who will monitor that the sterilisation process takes place," Otieno wodered.
Many parents are still undecided whether to take their children for circumcision in hospitals where safety is assured.
However, they are discouraged by the prospect of their children being ridiculed, as men circumcised in hospitals are not recognised by the Maragoli society.