In the same global spirit, the sisters have worked in Kenya since 1921.In that period, the Sisters have gained knowledge and have come to appreciate many aspects of traditional cultures within the communities they work with. At the same time, they have learned that some of the cultural practices that have sustained communities in the past are now found (through Christianity and the modern sciences) to be harmful to girls,women, the family and the society at large. It is for this reason that in 1998, the Sisters initiated a programme to terminate Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya.
The TFGM project was established in 1998, by Sr. Dr. Ephigenia Gachiri, to facilitate and support the termination of female genital mutilation practices (TFGM) that has posed severe health risks to the survivors of the practice overtime, through creating awareness and education on its harmful effects. The aim of the project is to create awareness with a focus on understanding FGM, its origin, consequences, its prevalence from the cultural, religion and modern sciences perspectives. It seeks to reinforce good cultural practices with Christian cultural values for the welfare of the girl child.
The project has created culturally sensitive and informed Alternative Modern and Christian Rites of passage where girls and boys are equipped with intense experience and education. This is coupled with knowledge and skills on how to gracefully transit from childhood to adult-hood, as modern Christians in their respective ethnic communities. It is expected that these young people will in turn reach thousands more in their communities so as to totally root out FGM and its harmful effects.
The project start-up was informed by extensive research undertaken by Sr. Dr. Ephigenia Gachiri, as well as representation of demographic data from the Population Council of Kenya. Key research findings at the time revealed that, out of 72 districts in Kenya, only 15 did not circumcise the girls. In the non-circumcising districts, there were areas that carried out the practice due to inter-marriage and internal migration. The Kenya Demographic survey revealed that 34% of the women aged between 15 to 19 years were circumcised. The prevalence ranged from 0-100% in different parts of the country.
The research further revealed that FGM is still widely practiced in Kenya especially among the pastoralist communities despite the government and other non-state actor’s initiatives to eradicate its harmful effects.
The Sisters also examined the policies and the legal frameworks within the 2001 Children’s Act and the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the FGM in Kenya 1999 to 2019. There were however still gaps in the implementation processes.
In the recent past, Kenya adopted a new Constitution in 2010 where the Bill of Rights underscores protection of the Rights of the Child in Kenya.