Cultural practices that hinder Children’s Rights among the Digo community – Msambweni District, Kwale County – Kenya

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KAACR, Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children

This report presents findings of some harmful cultural practices from among the Digo people in Msambweni District, Kwale County, in the coast region of Kenya. The main objective was to identify, through Focused Group Discussions (FDGs) and interviews, some of the harmful cultural practices that affect the growth of children in the district, with the purpose of developing interventions for program design, planning and implementation to protect children from these cultural practices while at the same time encouraging communities to continue practicing those cultural activities that protect children. The survey was carried out between 21-28 October 2010 in Msambweni Sub location and Diani Sub locations in Msambweni district, Kwale County. Two sites were selected for Female Genital Mutilation FGDs at Vingujini Primary School and Msambweni Primary School. Interviews were carried out at Diani, Msambweni and Milalani, all predominated by the Digo people. The survey findings show that the Digo people still cling to cultural norms and practices. There is high belief in witchcraft and spirits (jinis) even among the Moslem faithful. Some of the cultural beliefs are positive and promote socio-economic growth, but many of the practices are evidently negative and hinder growth of the community. The main victims of bad cultural practices are children, whose voices are never heard inthe process. Deep belief in negative cultural practices is further fuelled by high levels of illiteracy. This development has seen a vicious cycle of early marriages, child pregnancies, increased poverty and perpetuation of the culture of fear emanating from uchawi (witchcraft) and urogi (sorcery).

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