Migori County Condemns Mass Male Circumcision

Migori County Condemns Mass Male Circumcision

By Kennedy Owino

On Monday 19th December 2016, I arrived in Migori town early enough to take a permit from the Migori County Environment office. The three men and two women who were in the office at that moment were surprised to hear that we were seeking a permit to hold an anti-circumcision event, something they were shocked to know about because they were hearing this for the first time. I invited them to attend our event which was scheduled to take place on the following day (Tuesday 20th December 2016). It was in this environment office where I first heard about giving a bribery to people so that they attend an event. In Migori County the this money for bribery is popularly known as “allowance.”

A few minutes later, I went to the office of the assistant chief of Oruba sub-location, Mr. Charles Ouma. The chief was hosting the event in his Sub-location at the Onyinjo Grounds in front of the ODM office in Migori town. We walked with the chief informing people about the event requesting them to attend and learn more about how dangerous it is to promote VMMC. As expected, people were shocked but they said they would attend.

I parted ways with the chief when one man who had known about us in the radio interview we held in the previous month called me and took me to a house which belonged to his friend who is a male teacher. The teacher, who is himself intact [not circumcised], has handed over 80 boys from his school to be circumcised in the last term of this year.

After leaving that house I went to the radio station office where I met the manager. As we were walking back to town, she told me that some people from Maryland USA [home to Jhpiego/Johns Hopkins University, a major VMMC promoter] are in Migori town. According to her, these white men and women from Maryland USA have booked a programme with her radio station which may run for about two years to promote and convince the people of Migori County to go for circumcision! However, she said that the local VMMC advocates had shown fear of holding a joint programme on air with us because it seems we have more convincing points against their work. The manager said that she can give us airtime on the radio station on the Friday 13th January 2017.

[T]he local VMMC advocates had shown fear of holding a joint programme on air with us because it seems we have more convincing points against their work.

Later that evening Job and Prince Hillary arrived in Migori town. We took bath, went to a hotel and ate. In a nearby hotel there was a live band performing the traditional “ohangla songs” in my vernacular language, Luo. Even though Hillary doesn’t understand the language, he found it very entertaining and it took us some effort with Job to convince him that it was time to go to sleep. Hillary really enjoyed himself.

In the morning of Monday 20th December 2017, we went to the venue of our event to check if there was anything going on. We found the public address already playing some ohangla songs as the tents were being erected. We wanted to go back to town to print some flyers to give away. Hillary requested to stay behind. The ohangla songs were too irresistible for him so I went with Job. Unfortunately, just after printing one copy there was a power blackout. I was disappointed.

By 11am there were only a handful of people under one tent. I hired three tents with a capacity of holding 100 chairs each, meaning I expected an audience of at least 300 people.

Before my arrival the chief had solicited money amounting to 5000KES from me, which he said he was to use for sending some people to walk from door to door inviting people to attend our event. It turned out that apparently he didn’t make any attempt to invite people in my absence. I had to arrive to walk with him through a few households in town.

The chief didn’t send anybody to be the master of ceremony as we had agreed with him earlier. The chief arrived at around 3pm when we were nearing the end of our ceremony. When given a chance to speak, he said that he cannot assist in taking legal action against those who are circumcising children in his administrative unit of Oruba Sub-location because according to him circumcision was introduced by the government as a policy and he cannot go against any policy that is being implemented by the government. He ended up announcing to the audience about unclaimed identity cards idling in his office, yet he knew that we organised the event against mass MALE GENITAL MUTILATION (MGM).

The chief … said that he cannot assist in taking legal action … because according to him circumcision was introduced by the government as a policy and he cannot go against any policy that is being implemented by the government.

In attendance was one man who is a teacher (previously mentioned). The teacher said that he had been handing over boys from his school to be circumcised because of his ignorance. The circumcisers have always given him money in the form of bribery so that he could release as many boys possible for circumcision. This term he handed over approximately 80 young boys in his school for the cut while in the previous term almost 100 boys were plucked from his school for the cut. And this trend has been going on every term in the previous years. According to him, we have opened his eyes so he will make an attempt to stop the circumcisers from reaping foreskins from his school next year. It’s however surprising that the teacher and his son are both intact.

The circumcisers have always given him money in the form of bribery so that he could release as many boys possible for circumcision.

There were about 5 CHVs (community health volunteers), each heading more than 100 households. These CHVs are women who have been attending seminars organised by the VMMC advocates in large halls where they are given bribery (known to them as “allowance”), after which they are told lies coated as truths concerning mass MALE GENITAL MUTILATION  (the radio station manager had previously told me about her in involvement in the same). These women in turn go back to the villages informing and convincing parents to take their sons for circumcision.

Most of them agreed with us that circumcision is bad especially after reading some of our books and the few printing materials we gave out. Their main worry was how they are going to take conflicting information that circumcision is a torturous practice with no medical benefit to the very people they had convinced to circumcise their sons, and even if possible to apologise to those who have been harmed by the cut. They suggested that we organise a similar seminar so that they invite the households they represent to attend and hear for themselves the good news we have concerning circumcision harm.

There were some very young children who were keenly listening to our speeches.

Prince Hillary Maloba elaborated how circumcision as a rite of passage too has failed to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS transmission among the communities which circumcise their underage teenage boys during the initiation ceremonies. He used this same scenario to show how VMMC has also failed to serve its intended purpose.

Among the Abagisu community of Uganda and Kenya, at least 90% of their men are circumcised yet many men, women and children have been killed by HIV/AIDS while many more are living with the virus that causes AIDS, a disease that keeps on spreading its wings daily. Prince Hillary Maloba in his speech repeatedly said that we currently have all the evidence and proof to push for a quick and complete ban on VMMC before the circumcision genocide sweeps us out of existence. Prince Hillary Maloba Sebe is the Director of the VMMC Experience Project.

Prince Hillary Maloba in his speech repeatedly said that we currently have all the evidence and proof to push for a quick and complete ban on VMMC before the circumcision genocide sweeps us out of existence.

Job Kajwang had the opportunity to write down and answer questions, especially those touching on the medical aspects of circumcision. He explained how cervical cancer, which is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), is not a sexually transmitted infection contrary to what the CHVs have always been told during VMMC seminars. This allegation has popularly been used as a scare tactic for women to convince their husbands to go for the cut.
[Correction: HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. However, American circumcision-promoting literature purporting a link between intact genitals and HPV susceptibility are rejected by most medical societies. It was only after VMMC implementation that the World Health Organisation (WHO) accepted the cervical cancer claim to give women a stake in the matter. Studies by the VMMC research network show that women can be key agents in pressuring men to undergo circumcision.]

Job ascertained the use of human skins in making leather jackets, shoes, wristwatches and anti-aging facial creams.

One woman narrated to the few people in attendance how her son was scooped from school and forcefully circumcised. She was asking if there’s any help we can offer her so that she can take legal action against the perpetrators of this heinous act.

One woman narrated to the few people in attendance how her son was scooped from school and forcefully circumcised. She was asking if there’s any help we can offer her so that she can take legal action against the perpetrators of this heinous act.

When the meeting ended at around 4:20pm, many people were hungry for more. We received invitations for our next visit in different parts of the county.

 

Kennedy Owino is the Director of Intact Kenya.

3 Comments

  1. As anti circumcision group activists both in Uganda and Kenya,we fully support Ken Owino efforts to end this Western pushed VMMC in louland Kenya to end AIDS ,for 30 years since VMMC was pushed in luo community through corruption and political of greedy leaders who love dirt money,themselves are not circumcised but after being corrupted by Western VMMC money,they campaigned intensively cheating luos that AIDS is killing them because they refused to embrace male circumcision,that if they accept VMMC as the best tool against HIV,hiv will end in the community,badly after 30 years,thousands of luos have been circumcised through VMMC programme,badly and sadly is that circumcision has totally failed to register any success in war against HIV in this community,in fact hiv is high among circumcised men who thought it will protect them against hiv infections ,his community is leading in hiv infections in Kenya,we fully support Ken Owino efforts to demand banning of VMMC in luo community , circumcision is contributing high levels of HIV,circumcision replaced ABC to fight hiv here.We demand ABC to be restored as it had registered a lot success in reducing Hiv before VMMC was pushed in to spread hiv in name of reducing HIV,VMMC is a failed project to end AIDS in Africa that ought to be banned .

  2. Comunity entry was poorly done.Luos do understand benefits of vmmc.impact research did circumcision for 5 good years in migori and it was very successful. I was part of the team.

  3. Keep up your good work. These American bounty hunters will do anything to make a dollar and they will do it anywhere. Stop the americans from ruining your young men to aleviatr their shortage of easy money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *