Is it an Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) or a Rescue? These two terminologies have confused many in the fight against female genital mutilation. But let’s put it clear one cannot be used for the other as they mean two totally different and unique happenings in the end FGM calendar.
Rescue means to have someone from a dangerous or difficult situation. This could mean girls who are at high risk of being cut, those that have ran away from the cut after getting wind of the impending ceremony or any other girl that is being taken away from her original home/family to avert the likelihood of undergoing FGM.
On the other hand, an Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) is a mock ceremony conducted by community members for the girls who are of the ‘cutting age’. The essence of the ceremony is to have girls graduate from one age group to another (from childhood to adulthood) and also allow community members to enjoy the activities that accompany such occasions ‘minus the cutting’. Such ceremonies are conducted after the parents of the girls, and the girls themselves have undergone thorough training on the need to abandon FGM.
Whereas rescues occur in the cases where the family members have failed to convert or adhere to the end FGM ‘gospel’, alternative rites of passage are carried out to the converts who have listened and internalized the ‘gospel’ and are walking the talk. Mostly in the case of alternative rite of passage, the girls are present by consent of their parents unlike in the cases of rescue where there is conflict of interest from the parties involved.
After ARPs the girls are free to leave and accompany their parents and continues with day to day life, but for rescue family mediations, police cases, counseling and other activities follow before a child can go back to the family and be with the community.
Rescue is time consuming, sometimes dangerous and also and expensive affair but ARPs are eventful, joyous and community members are always willing to join in to make the ceremonies a success.
I thought you should know?