Mohammed Opeondoh

Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamaa

The Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamaa (KCIU) is a national network of Imams and Islamic scholars. The council has the overall aim of contributing to social development in the country and links Imams with other Islamic scholars with a view to cascading Islamic teachings to the congregations. We engage religious leaders at the mosque, attend community forums, weddings, big social events to speak to people about Female Genital Mutilation /Cutting (FGM/C). It is particularly important that as Imams and islamic scholars we engage with those that believe that FGM/C has a religious connotations and that we de-link this harmful and dangerous practice from religion in people’s minds. To do this we talk openly and give communities - parents, religious leaders, teachers, local government officials, community elders and local administrators all the information we have about the dangers to girls and women’s physical and mental health. FGM/C is a retrogressive practice that risks infection and death as well as impaired female reproductive organs and we believe the practice to be a violation of human rights, that it is an act of gender based violence issue, and that it is a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issue. As Imams and Ulamaa we have a duty to convey all these things to the communities that still persist in practicing FGM/C.

Our committed and passionate team communicates, educates and informs as much as we can, in as many places as we can but know that we need to expand our activities to tackle FGMC in other areas of Kenya, even cross border and the increasing prevalence of medicalised FGMC. In order to do that and speak to those that believe that FGMC has a religious connotation we need to be properly funded so that we can increase our training of staff, collect up to date data and so that we can monitor and evaluate attitudes towards FGMC in different communities.

At KCIU we want to engage the cutters themselves and we don’t have the resources to create training and programmes to do that. We feel that if we work with cutters to create a really strong and engaging Alternative Rights of Passage, then there is a strong possibility that the cut will be replaced by something culturally significant. A tradition that does not harm the girl you are celebrating becoming a woman.

We would also like the resources to be able to create a care of carers package, which is a package that targets the volunteers so that they don’t burn out. It can be very stressful work.

We would also like to strengthen an African network which works to end FGMC because we know that this harmful and dangerous practice will only end if there is collaboration between communities and nations.