Beatrice Sakaja: Nairobi First Lady Experience With FGM

Beatrice Sakaja PHOTO/Courtesy

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja’s wife, Beatrice Sakaja, is among Kenyan women who escaped forced female genital mutilation (FGM).

Speaking during a recent meeting, the Nairobi County First Lady revealed that her grandmother had suggested that she undergoes FGM.

She was, however, protected from the same by his mother.

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Here is Beatrice’s story as told by WoK.

Beatrice was a special guest at the launch of Hoiyo Haigoynin, a pilot programme seeking to address FGM in the Somali community.

Hoiyo Haigoynin simply means, ‘mum don’t cut me’.

While speaking at the event held at a Nairobi hotel, Beatrice disclosed that she learnt about FGM when she was 17-years-old.

At the time, the First Lady was in high school and they had been given homework to research on harmful practices in their communities.

It was during a conversation with her mother hours later when she learnt that she nearly underwent forced FGM.

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“My mother told me FGM was one of the harmful cultural practices in my community

“She confessed that I had actually escaped the cut by a whisker, after she stood firm against my grandmother’s push to have me circumcised,” she said.

Beatrice is from the Taita community.

While dismissing FGM as a meaningless cultural practice, the First Lady noted that most of her aunties and relatives had underwent the knife.

Beatrice also called for men involvement in the fight against FGM, noting that they have influence to change culture and perception in their communities.

“Time is ripe for men to talk to their sons and brothers on why they must fight FGM

“My mother managed to shield me from the cut because she had the support of my father and her father-in-law, which underscores the influence that men wield on such matters,” she said.

FGM in Kenya

According to UNICEF, around 4 million Kenyans, or one in five, women and girls have been subjected to FGM.

At the same time, this has rose as high as 94 percent in some communities although these numbers have declined over recent years.

While ending FGM is a national priority in Kenya, UNICEF warned that an estimated 574,000 additional Kenyan girls are at risk of undergoing FGM between now and 2030.

A report by 28TooMany showed that FGM is practised across all ethnic groups and religions although to varying degrees.  

The highest prevalences are among Muslim women (51.1% of women aged 15–49) and the Somali (93.6%).

The lowest prevalence according to religion is among Protestant/other Christians (17.9%), while the lowest according to ethnic group appears to be among the Luhya (0.4%) and Luo (0.2%).

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, which came into effect on 4 October 2011, is the principal legislation governing FGM in Kenya. 

It is a federal act criminalising all forms of FGM and is one of the most comprehensive in Africa.

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