Concern over increase of female genital mutilation
Anti- female genital mutilation (FGM) organizations in West Pokot County have expressed concern over the increased number of young girls undergoing the vice during this holiday season.
The organizations suspected that over 75 per cent of young girls were targeted to undergo the cut in December, attributing the long festive season, high level of illiteracy ignorance and lack of information as some of the contributing factors.
Speaking during graduation of 350 girls who had undergone an alternative rite of passage at Muino in Central Pokot Sub County, the area county assembly speaker Ms Catherine Mukenyang urged the Pokot community to shun such retrogressive practices like FGM, early and forced marriages which hinder development.
Mukenyang observed that such vices had contributed a lot to the underdevelopment of the area, adding that the only way forward was promotion of education in such affected areas.
“Most parts of the county continue to lag behind because of these harmful practices,”she said, adding the county leadership supports anti FGM programs and would work together with other stakeholders to eradicate the vice.
The speaker called on leaders and regional administrators to help in the enforcement of anti FGM laws. She added that providing sensitisation of the new laws to wananchi was very important.
Beyond FGM CBO sponsored the program with the manager Domitila Chesang pointing out that many girls who had undergone the cut continued to suffer and asked the national and county government to support the crusades against the evil.
Chesang observed that thousands of girls in the County were set to undergo the cut during December holidays, saying many ceremonies had been planned and asked the government to intervene.
Areas marked as hot spots of FGM in the County are marginalized areas of Masol, Muino, Kapsolion, Takaywa ,Nyangaita, Nyarkulian, Sondany, Koporo and most parts of North Pokot Sub County.
“Many of these young girls and the community are ignorant. They lack important information on the effects of the cut and are not aware of the new Law. What is important is to provide and ensure that they are aware of the consequences and effects of FGM on young girls,” said Chesang.
She said during the four day mentorship program girls were sensitized on contentious matters that directly touch on their lives on importance of education, Biblical teachings, effects of FGM and early and forced marriages.
She pointed out that Beyond FGM CBO has put measures in place to help in eradicating the vice in the area by reaching remote villages where it is rampant.
“We have tried to ensure that we reach remote areas where the problem is. We have trained NyumbaKumi people, women, men and youths. We are reaching out to the youth to accept to marry uncircumcised women,” she said.
”Our campaign efforts have been hampered by poor infrastructure and lack of network. Residents don’t listen to radios and it is hard to go to hills where the girls hide and undergo FGM,” Chesang said.
The speaker added that the county had partnered with NGOS fighting the vice in the region to ensure that the rate is drastically reduced and more girls further their education. She added that the county government will set up more rescue centers in the area.
Mukenyang disclosed that they have formed a women caucus in the county assembly and their main work is to sensitize the community on the dangers of FGM.
She said the County Government has set aside money for infrastructure and bursaries for girls, adding that during the next financial year the county will factor in the budget funds for anti- FGM.
A standard seven girl aged 16, from Ortum Primary School who graduated pledged that she will extend the teachings to other girls in the community
“I want them to say no to FGM because I have known its dangers.Many have been taken for operation and end up bleeding excessively because of FGM. Girls should ensure that they take education seriously and make sure that they complete it,” she said.
Muino location Chief Mr Jacob Tatalima said all government security organs are alert and no girl will be subjected to the cut during this holiday.
He further warned those planning to do it, saying severe action will be taken against parents who will try as Law will take its action.
“We know they are those who think by moving to that harsh terrain, security will not get them. The government has all possible machineries on how to find time and they will recreat if found,” said the chief.
By John Saina