Alternative Rites of Passage in FGM/C Abandonment Campaigns in Africa: A research opportunity

Laurence Droy, Lotte Hughes, Mark Lamont, Peter Nguura, Damaris Parsitau, Grace Wamue Ngare


Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) are a relatively recent invention, and a key element in female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) abandonment strategies organised by NGOs in some regions of Africa, particularly East Africa. They aim to replicate traditional initiation rituals for pubescent girls who are transitioning to womanhood, but without FGM/C. This paper briefly describes the genesis of ARP in Kenya since 1996, and discusses its significance as a hybridised cultural assemblage that forms part of new cultural and relational processes. It emphasises the importance of examining the deep context in which ARP takes place, including the traditional ritual that it aims to replace. The paper identifies lacunae in the literature, and potential lines of enquiry for future research. The Appendix includes summaries of a selection of the literature on ARP.

Full Text:



Broch-Due, V. (2000). ‘Remembered cattle, forgotten people’. In: D. M. Anderson and V. Broch-Due eds. The Poor Are Not Us: Poverty and pastoralism in Eastern Africa. Oxford: James Currey.

Buttia, C. (2015). Investigation of successful interventions in mitigation of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) among selected Kenyan communities: Maasai, Kisii and Kuria. Masters. Hamburg University of Applied Sciences.

Chege, J.N., Askew, I. and Liku, J. (2001). An assessment of the alternative rites approach for encouraging abandonment of female genital mutilation in Kenya. Washington DC: FRONTIERS in Reproductive Health and Population Council.

Dὂcker, M. (2011). Overcoming female genital cutting. An examination of approaches to overcome the harmful traditional practice: A children’s rights perspective. Masters. Freie Universität.

Esho, T., Karumbi, J. and Njue, C. (2017). Rapid evidence assessment: Quality of studies assessing interventions to support FGM/C abandonment. Evidence to End FGM/C Programme: Research to Help Girls and Women Thrive. New York: Population Council.

Galukande, M., Kamara, J., Ndabwire, V., Leistey, E., Valla, C. and Luboga, S. (2015). Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting in Tanzania: An observational study. BMC Public Health, 15(1147), pp. 1-10.

Gitagno, J.F. (2015). Effects of alternative rite of passage on girls’ education among the Keiyo community of Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya. Masters. Egerton University.

Hernlund, Y. and Shell-Duncan, B. (2007). Contingency, Context, and Change: Negotiating female genital cutting in The Gambia and Senegal. Africa Today, 52(4), pp. 43-57.

Hodgson, D. L. (2000). ‘Pastoralism, patriarchy & history among Maasai in Tanganyika 1890-1940’. In: D.L. Hodgson, ed., Rethinking Pastoralism in Africa. Oxford: James Currey.

Hughes, L. (2018). Alternative Rites of Passage: Faith, rights, and performance in FGM/C abandonment campaigns in Kenya. African Studies, 77(2), pp.274-292.

Ingdal, N., Umbima, J. and Tysse, A. L. (2008). Mid-term review of project. Practice reduction and awareness on female genital mutilation (FGM). Nairobi and Oslo: Y Global and Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS). YWCA Kenya.

Lokurosia, J.C. (2011). An assessment of the impact of health campaigns against female genital mutilation in West Pokot District, Kenya. Masters. Kenyatta University.

Kassim, S.S. (2014). The attitudes of Maasai parents towards Alternative Rites of Passage of girls in Central Division, Narok County, Kenya. Masters. University of Nairobi.

Lie, G.T., Lothe, E.A. and Ali, C. (2004). Working against Female Genital Mutilation, Tanzania. A qualitative evaluation. Oslo: Kvinnefronten/Women’s Front of Norway.

Mepukori, D.N. (2016). Is Alternative Rites of Passage the key to abandonment of female genital cutting? A case study of the Samburu of Kenya. BA. Duke University.

Mitchell, L. and Eke, C. (n.d.). Alternatives to female genital mutilation in Western Africa. Available at: [Accessed 2 April 2018]

M’Raiji, J.K. (2015). The transformation of Swahili unyago and female genital mutilation into an Alternative Rite of Passage: A poststructuralist approach. PhD. University of Botswana.

Muteshi, J. and Sass, J. (2005). Female genital mutilation in Africa. An analysis of current abandonment approaches. Nairobi: PATH.

Nambisia, E. (2014). Measures influencing eradication of female genital mutilation practices among the Maasai community in Maparasha constituency, Kajiado County, Kenya. Masters. University of Nairobi.

Namulondo, J. (2009). A case of the Sabiny in Kapchowra District, Uganda. MA. Universities of Trømso, Gothenburg and Roehampton.

Olenja, J. (2000). Eliminating the practice of female genital mutilation: Awareness-raising and community change in four districts of Kenya. Nairobi: PATH and MYWO.

Oloo, H., Wanjiru, M. and Newell-Jones, K. (2011). Female genital mutilation practices in Kenya: The role of Alternative Rites of Passage. A case study of Kisii and Kuria Districts. London: Feed the Minds.

O’Neill, S. (2012). Defying the law, negotiating change. The Futanke’s opposition to the national ban on FGM in Senegal. PhD. University of London.

Peatrik, A. M. (1999). La Vie à Pas Contés: Génération, âge et société dans les Hautes Terres du Kénya (Meru Tigania-Igembe). Nanterre: Société d'ethnologie.

Prazak, M. (2007). Introducing Alternative Rites of Passage. Africa Today, 53(4), pp.19-40.

Soneya, J. M.; Biwott, J. C. and Kangogo, W. J. (2009). Evaluation Report for the Anti Female Genital Mutilation Maasai (FGM) Project. Oslo: NORAD.

Thomas, L. M. (2003). Politics of the Womb: Women, reproduction, and the state in Kenya. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

toomany (2013). Country Profile: FGM in Uganda. London: 28toomany.

Waritay, J. and Wilson, A-M. (2013). Working to End Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting in Tanzania. The Role and Response of the Church. London: TEARFUND.

UNFPA/UNICEF (2013). Joint Evaluation of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting (FGM/C):

Accelerating Change (2008-2012). Country Case Study: Kenya. No place of publication given.

World Bank/UNFPA (2004). Female genital mutilation/cutting in Somalia. No place of publication.

World Health Organization/PATH (1999). Female genital mutilation. Programmes to date: What works and what doesn't. A review. Geneva: WHO



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Droy Laurence, Lotte Hughes, Mark Lamont, Peter Nguura, Damaris Parsitau, Grace Wamue Ngare
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.