These cases often turn out for the worst because most of the victims often develop short term effects like death due to over bleeding, physical injury and long-term effects such as fistula, barrenness, miscarriages and immature pregnancies.
Mostly, the girls are forced to undergo the rite or sometimes bow in due to peer pressure and influence despite having information concerning the effects that come with the practice and use of inappropriate tools for the procedure.
Amina * Not her real name* said most of the young girls want to have a social standing in the society, they want to be respected and considered as adults ready for marriage therefore opting to go through the illegal procedure.
Forced marriage also takes its toll in the camp. With a population consisting of young people, girls as young as 13 years are married off forcefully in order to claim bride price among other factors. This is mostly supported based on cultural values, something which the Somali people adhere to prestigiously.
Other harmful practices also demean the status of women in the camp include polygamy and widow cleansing. These factors have a high reputation of enhancing the SPREAD of HIV/AIDS apart from venereal diseases.
Lack of capacity building and participation
Having facilitated many sessions and trainings on capacity building in Dadaab camp, I found out that women were not fully participating in formulation of ideas and policies because of poor motivation and morale.
Despite organizing seminars and workshops for capacity building, poor attendance was recorded when many women cited different reasons not to attend the sessions such as domestic chores, shyness, assumption that women are supposed to “stay in the kitchen” and most significantly, illiteracy.
Lack of capacity building primarily leads to lack of awareness, thus many women in the camp do not know their rights. This creates a knowledge gap between men and women especially when it is made complex due to illiteracy and unsocial cultural traits.
Exclusion from leadership
When the time for casting the ballot sets in, the numbers of women vying for POSITIONS in leadership are only a handful at any given year. This emanates from the negative attitude towards the status of women in the society.
Women are viewed as weak hence cannot sustain leadership and governance in the refugee setting. Apart from that, the fear of being targeted by militants and bandits in case one clinches a leadership POSITION is never taken for granted.
Having worked in the area, leaders fall victim to kidnapping and tortured to give information apart from being targeted then murdered after being labeled as agents colluding with the police. These underlying issues have created fear in women against vying for leadership POSITIONS.
On the other hand, women serving as elected leaders often undergo a myriad of challenges. According to a report by UN Women, ladies in leadership POSITION have immense pressure to deliver and showcase everyday that they can do better than men. They defy all odds including stigma, stereotyping and marginalization in order to deliver.
In Dadaab camps, women leaders are challenged day by day with cases they cannot solve by themselves alone thus rendering questions on their credibility as leaders.
A talk with the Chairlady for Hagadera camp revealed a plight of accusations such as favoritism, tribalism and corruption, especially when she had to make decisions that did not render well with the rest.
Inadequate support from law enforcers and humanitarian agencies only makes it hard for women to accept leadership POSITION in the camp.