Margaret, 54, is a proud grandmother who is also a campaigner against female genital mutilation (FGM). She has taken the decision not to cut her daughter and granddaughters - a step that puts her at odds with many other mothers in West Pokot, Kenya, where an estimated 75 per cent of girls endure FGM. She is a member of the ActionAid-funded Kongelai Women’s Network and has talked to cutters about the risks of performing FGM.
"My name is Margaret, I was born in 1964. I have six children, four of them are sons. My daughters have married without undergoing FGM.
FGM used to be very common. It usually happened in April, August and December. Every girl child had to be cut in order for the parents to get cows as her dowry.
When I was a child I thought FGM was good because I didn’t have any alternative information about it. I was 13 when I was cut. You have to sit on a stone, and then they cut you. You are told prior to the cutting that you should not scream. You should not even show that you are feeling pain because it will be a bad sign.
You have to sit on a stone, and then they cut you. You are told prior to the cutting that you should not scream.
During that healing period, it was painful to go to the toilet. FGM makes it difficult for a girl when she wants to sleep with a man. And even during childbirth, the birth attendant has to cut you again.
ActionAid's work on FGM in Kenya
ActionAid held a series of seminars for women, girls and men, where they taught us about the effects of FGM.
I tell mothers they should all come together and to listen to the warnings about FGM. I have also visited a cutter, and I convinced her to stop the practice.
But mothers are reluctant to reject FGM because they are scared their daughters might be ridiculed. Their daughter might not get married. It's difficult for women to speak out because they are scared they could be beaten by their husbands.
I have also visited a cutter, and I convinced her to stop the practice.
There are some people who criticised us for being anti-FGM. They said: 'How will we get cows if daughters don't under go the cut?' I tell them that the constitution is against FGM, and that anybody who is found perpetrating that offence will be taken to court.
Margaret will not let her daughters or granddaughters be cut
My daughters have been married without undergoing FGM. My brothers were very supportive: they did not pressure me to let my girls get cut. But a few of my family members have said I was delaying the girls for marriage, and I was denying them the opportunity to get cows.
My granddaughters will not be cut. I feel at peace about that. It hurts me to think that a girl’s body has been destroyed."
In 2015, ActionAid mobilised 278,800 women to challenge violence against women and girls and harmful traditional practices including FGM. Please help us support more amazing women like Margaret, so that together we can help end FGM.