Female genital mutilation is one of the worst forms of discrimination against women and girls

Why do we Sanction Girls Human rights violations in the Name of CULTURE!!

Female Genital mutilation is a harmful traditional practice that continues to hinder the advancement of women and girls empowerment especially in Africa. According to the World Health Organization, , more than 2000 million girls have undergone female genital mutilation.  In addition to the millions of girls who have undergone this horrible practice, the agency also notes that female genital mutilation violates girls  rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.

Is there an Excuse for Female Genital Mutilation?

Culture has been used to perpetuate and excuse this undeniable and gross girls’ human rights violation which goes against international legal instruments such as the Convention on elimination of discrimination against women, the International conference on population and development program of Action ( ICPD PoA), Beijing Platform For Action and now the 2030 agenda for sustainable development (SDGs).


As we analyse our efforts  towards the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment, harmful practices especially FGM and child marriage which are mostly inextricably linked continue to hold us back. In many instances Female genital mutilation serves as a precursor to child marriage, another horrible practice that dooms girls to cycles of poverty, curtails their participation in social, economic and political life and reinforces gender inequality.

We have taken different routes when it comes to confronting Female Genital Mutilation. Some routes have aimed at sanitizing the horrible practice by being politically correct. Terms like circumcision and cutting have sprout and have been used in various policy documents.  This waters down the effect on individual girls lives, the horror the girls have to go through and somehow paints the practice as an  acceptable initiation rite

My Perspective

In staying true to my feminist politics, I would personally like to emphasize on the need to keep a rights perspective if we are to tackle and eradicate FGM. Women’s bodily autonomy and the right to choose what happens to their body including control over their sexuality should not at any one point be subjected to political discussion. The personal is political as feminists is one of the core feminist principles, yet the actualization of this has been reversed to politicize women’s choices, undermine autonomy and control over individuals bodies.

Instrumentalization of women’s body and politicization of women’s human rights has taken place for far too long and to sit back and continue perpetuating rights violations while girls continue to undergo this harmful practice is something we should do away with. The more than 200 million girls who have suffered at the hands of all manner of sharp subjects are all we need as evidence.

We must all call the practice for what it is ( a gross human right violation enabled by a patriarchal society) and join hands to end it. The whether your country is rated as having high prevalence or low prevalence. Galvanizing support and political will to end this practice should be one of our generations’ chief objectives.

Catherine is a Mandela Fellow 2016, Women Deliver Young Leader and member of Youth RISE International working group. Catherine is a passionate young African feminist activist with over 7 years of experience in advancing gender equality, youth development and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of sustainable development through movement building, digital and social media, policy advocacy and capacity building for young women and adolescents girls. Catherine is currently Deputy Director at Dandelion Kenya, and sits on the SDGs Kenya Forum coordination committee. Catherine has engaged with various global and regional policy processes such as ICPD Beyond 2014 review, Beijing +20 and the post 2015 development agenda. She co-authored the article ‘Leave No One Behind; Will African Women be left behind in the post 2015 development agenda ,an article published on the East African Business Monthly in February 2015. Catherine launched the #SRHRDialogues, an online advocacy and awareness raising platform on SRHR and #YAFDialogues, an online platform anticipated to be a permanent mobilizing platforms borne out of an African feminist dialogue 2015 in Accra. Follow her on Twitter: @catherinenyamb1

Subscribe to our mailing list