A dangerous prerequisite for marriage is the ritual known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or female circumcision, where some or all of the external female genitalia is removed. It is this surgical procedure — which can lead to long-term physical complications, reproductive harm, and even death — that the Maasai view as a girl’s necessary path to becoming a woman.
And therefore, suitable for marriage. While the practice is now criminalized in both Kenya and Tanzania, this strongly ingrained cultural belief propels families to go to extreme lengths in order to circumcise their daughters. Some pushing the rite onto younger, prepubescent girls and avoid suspicion from the authorities. All in order to secure the possibility of marriage.