Day 4 & 5 in Nairobi: Chinese Name, Marriage, Woman Circumcision

August 28 & 29, 2015

Day 4, 5 in Nairobi, Kenya.

As an intern, I will have to write an intern report to Grapesyard organization and hand in a copy to MUA University. So I was writing in the office, and the director’s wife showed up in the office Ann invited me to her house to have lunch. She has two daughters and two sons, the eldest is 18 and the youngest is about 2 years old. The conversation started in a polite way and slowly they realized that I wasn’t the same as the other volunteers, they said I was the most social person that they have ever met, which was quite shocking because I thought normally people who come for volunteering should be very social. They said volunteers who came here, they did not know how to wash clothes, plates and cook. Well, this is what a modernized person has lost. While she was talking to me she was breast-feeding her youngest son. And I asked her about many question regarded to breast-feed and child care. And she asked a lot of things about my country too. I showed her some pictures of my hometown and she was interested in chicken curry, she wanted me to send her the recipe of it and I promised I’ll send her the easy package when I get back to Japan. Comparing to the lunch in the centre, lunch in her place tasted much more better. 

After lunch, I taught the kids how to write their names in Chinese. So every kid copied what I wrote on the paper and they practiced twice. I tried to use positive Chinese character on their names, such as “happy”, “precious”, “gentle” etc. So that when they understand their names’ meaning they felt happy and satisfied. 


It was fun to see how they write down their name. The older one was grabbing the younger one’s hand and wrote together. That scene was extremely beautiful.

I also talked to the kitchen ladies in the playground. They asked me to do them a favor: find a husband for them. I was surprised and felt pity for them when I knew about their suffer. One of them is 40 now, she wanted to find a man who is older than her and willing to come to her house; another one is 27 now, she wanted to find a man about 35 or so. They really meant it. They are going to give me their contact next time I see them. I understand how they feel. They are facing kids everyday and there’s no way to know any other new people except through their friends. And in church they cannot action because all their relatives are going to the same church. The problem is they have no laptop/smart phone/Internet with them. Such a difficult situation. I told them need not to be sad or hurry because everything in this world is set. When the timing is right, thing will happen. They smiled. I think they found comfort from my word. I asked them why not asking for help from the director’s wife. They said this kind of problem they have no one to talk to but women who are in the same position. “I am telling you this because you’re very open. You seem young but you understand a lot”; I replied, “women will always understand women’s feeling“. 

Speaking about marriage, in Kenya there are 42 tribes and normally people choose to marry people from the same tribe because every tribe has its own custom and culture to follow, and some tribes have bad customs. For example, people from Masai tribe still practicing circumcision now. Women who are circumcised will not be able to feel any sexual sensation. Masai men think that women are only the tool of reproduction so they don’t need to feel any pleasure. And women who are lack of feeling are easier to control and they barely attempt to escape. This is a total dystopia world to women and utopia to men. The only way to remain the balance is through a proper education. But it’s hard because some assume that this as a “tradition”, it will be continued. I can only say this is crazy. So, where does this crazy idea come from? You tell me. 

Since we are talking about women circumcision, I did some researches and here is the result: Female Circumcision: whose problem, whose solution?


Female circumcision, also called female genital cutting or female genital mutilation, is currently a worldwide topic. The World Health Organization and governments have recently been working on how to end the practice in the State, Britain and some other countries. Before looking into the problems and solutions of female circumcision, there are some key facts that should concern us.

There are four different kinds of circumcision: the first type is partial or total removal of the clitoris; the second type includes not only the removal of the clitoris but also the labia; the third type involves narrowing the vaginal opening; other forms includes practices where the female genitals are actually pricked and pierced, as well as cut and burned. These practices are common in parts of northern and central Africa, in the southern Sahara, in parts of the Middle East and Asia. According to the WHO (2014), today there are more than 125 million females have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Surprisingly, some communities in the United States focus on female circumcision as well. There are two hundred thousand females at risk of being circumcised even though it has been illegal since 1997 (Hill 2014). 

Women who are circumcised suffer from long-term psychical and mental health problems. For instance, serious bleeding, infection of the wound, trauma, infectious diseases such as HIV, urinary problems, painful menstrual periods, painful intercourse and childbirth, depression and death. In short, female circumcision is painful and offers no health benefits. Nevertheless, pressure from communities and religious traditions urge women to practice circumcision. Women who do circumcision are more likely to be accepted by their community. In some communities, candy and treats and even money are given to the circumcised women, as if it were a celebratory event. What lies behind this practice is that community and religious leaders can have a patriarchal chain of command in the societies in which they belong.


In order to protect women’s rights and health, the WHO is trying to work with community leaders as well as implementing legal policies that focus on the rights of women. Also, the organization will provide special counseling and therapy to those who had been traumatized due to the practice. In addition, educating women about their own bodies is specifically important, as women should acknowledge that female genitalia is created to give pleasure and they have the right to feel pleasure as men do. Through proper education and awareness, women can thus remove the sense of guilt and shame that had been implanted into them from an early age.

The problems of female circumcision are complicated, as it is not only related to the community and religion but also every single woman in the world. Yet there are solutions to this problem. As long as women themselves recognize female circumcision as a violation of the human rights of women, there is a hope in changing women’s fate.

References:

Female genital mutilation. WHO Media Centre. Feb 2014. Web. Dec 2015. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

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