Female genital cutting (FGC) is practiced as a rite of passage in over half of Kenya’s districts. Kenyan nongovernmental agency Maendeleo Ya Wanawake (MYWO) has long conducted community sensitization focused on discouraging this practice. In 1996, MYWO began implementing the “alternative rite” (AR) intervention in sensitized communities. Girls participating in AR receive family life education in seclusion, followed by a public graduation ceremony recognizing them as adults. They are not cut as part of the ceremony. In 2000, the Population Council carried out an assessment of the AR program that sought to identify the impact of MYWO’s activities on knowledge and attitudes regarding FGC, reproductive health, and gender equity. Data were collected through focus group discussions, interviews, household surveys, and case studies of AR-participating families. As this brief states, where cultural support for female circumcision is weakening, communities are more likely to accept sensitization messages encouraging abandonment of the practice and to participate in an alternative coming-of-age ceremony for girls. However, such alternative ceremonies must be preceded by extensive sensitization that changes attitudes and must be tailored to fit cultural norms for rite of passage.
"Kenya: Community sensitization must precede alternative coming-of-age rite," FRONTIERS OR Summary. Washington, DC: Population Council, 2002.
Frontiers in Reproductive Health