An alternative rites of passage event

7 November 2022

As part of the reproductive health project led by CHASE Africa and The Maa Trust (TMT), in Narok County in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, an Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) event was planned to educate on the dangers and harm caused by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

In the month of April, TMT coordinated and participated in a large ARP event. 73 girls who had received training in issues such as children’s rights, sexual reproductive health and rights, female genital mutilation, and alternative rites of passage graduated at this event, which was attended by 700 community members who pledged to protect them and others.

The youth peer mentors from the MAA Trust were at the forefront of coordinating this event working closely with the Child Rights Program.15 youth peer mentors were particularly active in organizing the event, talking to the graduating cohort, and giving important speeches at the event itself. In attendance were, local community members, local administrators, Anti-FGM board of Kenya representatives and the Ministry of Health.

The cultural elders who play a key part in the journey towards ending the retrogressive practice also pledged to stop FGM. All elders and parents in attendance came forwards to make a pledge to no longer circumcise girls in their families.

Seventy-year-old Ole Muserian, said that the training by The Maa Trust was an ‘eye opener’ as it informed her in depth about the dangers of FGM. “We came to realize it is worthless to circumcise girls as it has no benefit. This is why we are supporting the Alternative Rite of Passage.”

Speaking at the ceremony, one peer mentor said “We as the young men will not shy away from marrying ‘uncut girls’. We commit to stand courageously as youth to advocate against the practice”, Dominic Kasoe

Another community member commented that, “I have circumcised my girls, that was way back when I was not educated on the dangers of FGM. The only gift I can give my grandchildren is to support them and ensure they undergo the Alternative Rite of Passage, get educated and become what they want in life.” Naitayuang Naurori

Chief Gilisho from Nkoilale village sent a strong and clear message saying, “We will not play with those destroying our girls’ dreams. We will not stop with this movement. This is just the beginning. I’m leading by example as these are my daughters who are graduating today”.

The girls who graduated were happy beyond words to go through the ARP ceremony. “I have learnt a lot about my rights as a Maasai girl. I will not allow my future to be destroyed because of FGM, early marriage and pregnancy. I am happy to graduate in this ceremony which gives us hope and allows us to continue with our education unlike the traditional FGM ceremony that shutters our dreams,” said Ann Penoi Njapit.