We have constantly addressed the social aspects of FGM but have failed to keenly analyze the micro-economics of this harmful cultural practice. This is my layman point of view on why we need to address this aspect sooner than later. The cutters at the village levels earn anything between $5 to $25 for every girl cut. This translates to a booming business during the cutting season with the cutters minting money from ignorant villagers who buy a life long suffering with their hard earned money. Don’t forget the medical practitioners in medicalization of FGM earn way much more.
The elders are not left behind they are the main economic winners in the fight against FGM. They get a share of the fees levied by the cutters and constantly benefit from goodies that are thrown their way by NGOs trying to woo them. The politicians also constantly reward and support them as custodians of culture in return for political endorsements.
In most cases FGM acts as a prerequisite for child marriages which brings in wealth in terms of livestock paid as dowry for the girls. This wealth is thereafter used to cater for day to day expenses of the respective families and also acts as source of pride and status in the society. Law enforcers are also not left behind; they always get their share during the cutting seasons. The police and chiefs are constantly bribed by the community members to look the other way.
Sorry to say but some of the NGO workers are also in the game and you will constantly hear them lament if this practice ends where do we go! They have no passion at all in this fight but to them it’s a job like any other that puts bread on their table and that’s all that matters. Don’t be shocked to hear we have some survivors who have perfected the act of playing victims. They will move around sharing their stories and pretend to be fundraising to help other girls but if you look keenly this is all for their own benefits and fame.
Yes, we are in the fight against FGM but we have many beneficiaries of this harmful cultural practice who are praying and ensuring it remains around longer enough for them to make extra coins. Is this ignorance, selfish or poverty! let me know.
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