What you need to know:
- Mr Mwebia said men have not been adequately involved in previous campaigns, thus impeding efforts to eradicate the vice.
- A number of men in the pastoral communities demand that girls undergo the cut before they get married.
- Ms Joseline Mwangi said men are at the centre of the female cut practice which can only be eliminated if they denounce it.
The fight against female circumcision (FGM) in Isiolo County has received major boost after an organisation rolled out training for a group of 20 men to champion efforts to end the outdated practice.
The two-day training by Men End FGM in collaboration with the Anti-FGM Board and the Isiolo County Government was intended to prepare the group to reach out to other men who are decision makers and are influential in the African family setup.
With men having joined the fight, efforts to eradicate the practice are expected to bear fruit and go a long way in ending the vice by 2022 as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The organisation’s founder, Tony Mwebia, said they resolved to engage men because they make key decisions within their families yet they have not been adequately involved in previous campaigns, thus impeding efforts to eradicate the vice.
A number of men in the pastoral communities demand that girls undergo the cut before they get married, unaware of the dangers posed by the practice.
“We decided to bring on board men who have influence in the society and are respected so that they carry out community sensitisation in efforts to eradicate the practice that violates human rights,” said Mr Mwebia.
Addressing journalists at the Isiolo town Catholic Church after the capacity building workshop, Mr Mwebia said they had also trained men in Meru County, with the programme targeting 22 hotspot counties with high FGM prevalence.
Ms Joseline Mwangi, a member of the Anti-FGM Board, said men are at the centre of the female cut practice which can only be eliminated if they denounce it.
“They (men) have the power to end the practice as they are at the centre of it. While it is women who are involved in the ‘cutting’, it is usually done in the interest of men,” said Ms Mwangi.
She appealed to residents to promptly report FGM incidents to chiefs and other government authorities so that those abetting the vice are arrested and prosecuted.
The clergy led by County Interfaith Network Chairman Ahmed Sett and Secretary Stephen Kalunyu said people should not hide behind religion while perpetrating the vice as us not contained in biblical or Islamic teachings.
Bishop Kalunyu said they will continue engaging church elders and the youth in organised groups to educate residents on the effects of FGM and the need to abandon it.
“Men have previously been so silent and actively involving them will go long way in eliminating the vice. We also appeal to the media to continue sharing anti-FGM messages,” he said.
Isiolo governor’s wife Wato Kuti stressed on the need for the anti-FGM champions to also focus on teen pregnancies.
“A number of children have become young mothers and alongside the FGM fight, we should also focus on dealing with teenage pregnancies and early marriages,” she said.
She appealed to parents to ensure their children transit to the highest level of education and to stop marrying them off at a tender age.