Anti -FGM board accused
The Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) still stands at around 75 per cent in some parts of West Pokot County despite government’s efforts in eradicating the vice.
Speaking at Ortum market during the International World Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM on Wednesday, leaders from the area faulted the anti-FGM Board for failing to stem the practice in the area.
They pointed out that the presence of the Board had not been felt on the ground and called for decentralization of the same to the grass roots level where the vice was rampant.
“The government should cascade some of the Boardfunctions to the counties,” said the Beyond Zero FGM Program Manager, Domtillah Chesang.
Chesang observed that the vice will not be totally eradicated if the Board continues holding meetings in big hotels in major towns far away from the stakeholders.
During the function 36 FGM circumcisers in the county handed over their tools of trade to the Batei Location Chief, Samuel Limareng, vowing not to continue with the exercise any further.
The circumcisers decided to abandon the job they had done for many years after they were sensitized on the effects of the retrogressive cultural practice and theanti-FGM law that was enacted in 2012.
The circumcisers led by Chemkan Alemnyang, 80, said she cannot recall the number of girls she had subjected to the cut, saying they could be in their thousands.
“I began this job many years ago, that I cannot even recall when.During December holidays I used to cut over 100 girls per night. Parents used to trust me with their daughters,” she said.
Alemnyang, a mother of three, said she decided to abandon the practice after she was arrested by the government, brought before a Kapenguria court and jailed for for subjecting girls to the vice.
“I spent 3 years behind bars and that’s when I realized that FGM was illegal. When I finished my jail term, I decided to encourage other women to abandon the act. People down there in the village are ignorant and there is need for serious sensitization to be carried to the village level,” she said.
“I used to cut girls to get money to feed my children. When I was arrested my husband deserted, but now I have resorted to doing small business to sustain my family,” she said.
However, the circumcisers expressed fears that they may not be able to feed their families since they don’t have any other income generating activities to sustain them.
“Some may be forced to go back to the business and others are currently doing it secretly since they don’t have money to support their families and the best way is for the government to support them financially,” she said.
Chesang further blamed politicians from the area, saying they have not been serious in advocating on the fight against the vice.
“We want our leaders to intervene because FGM is a political challenge and needs apolitical solution. Leaders fear speaking about it in public. We need to hear the voices of our leaders,” said Chesang.
The County Assembly Speaker, Catherine Mukenyang , said FGM is a threat to development of the County and asked the Board to help in eradicating the vice.
She pointed out that they have formed a women caucus in the Assembly to sensitize the community on matters pertaining to FGM.
By John Saina