What you need to know:
- About 500 girls have undergone FGM in West Pokot County in the last two months.
- Stakeholders have devised a new strategy, which includes enlisting men in the fight against the vice.
- Men hold an important role in ending the outlawed practice as they are the custodians of the culture.
- From engagements so far, men have been quick to make a turn-round on FGM.
- Abnormal spike of FGM cases has revealed a trend involving a new cultural belief that if a girl dies before being circumcised, a misfortune befalls her family.
At least 500 girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in West Pokot County in the last two months.
Anti-FGM Board CEO Bernadette Loloju confirmed the situation terming it serious, adding that they will not rest until the numbers that have risen sharply since schools were closed in March, are contained.
For the last two weeks, the national, county government and local organisations in the region have been working to rescue girls in danger of undergoing the cut.
The activities include awareness campaign to educate locals on the dangers of FGM. Some circumcisers and parents who are complacent have been arrested.
Gender activists have devised a new strategy, which includes enlisting men in the fight against the vice.
Domtila Chesang, the founder of I-Am Responsible Foundation says men hold an important role in ending the outlawed practice as they are the custodians of the culture.
“We are now enlisting the participation of men on #EndFGM so that as a women’s attitudes begin to change, they find support among brothers, fathers, friends and partners,” says Ms Chesang.
The grassroots girl-child defender says men play a key role in defending and safeguarding the culture and thus the reason they have deemed it fit to rope them in the fight.
She says that from dialogues held with men, they confirm that they have blindly defended the culture touching on the outlawed practice without knowing knowing what it is all about and its impact.
“From engagements so far, men have been quick to make a turn-round on FGM. In fact, 90 per cent of men who we have engaged have indicated they have no problem marrying a woman who is not circumcised,” she says.
Ms Chesang adds that during their awareness campaigns, women own up and reveal that they are the ones who pressurise their daughters to undergo the cut.
The gender activist, however, reveals that they have contained the situation on the ground, noting that if there is any ongoing cases of FGM, then they are minimal.
The abnormal spike of FGM cases has revealed a trend involving a new cultural belief that if a girl dies before being circumcised, a misfortune befalls her family, hence the continuation of the outlawed cultural practice in the area.
Since the campaign to reduce FGM prevalence in the county started, three chiefs in Pokot South have been interdicted for abetting the practice.
One assistant chief who subjected his two daughters to the cut and two police reservists who also allowed their daughters to be circumcised have also been arrested and charged in court.
Two female circumcisers have also been arrested and three girls who have already undergone the cut who will now act as witnesses in cases that will be presented in court.
Kenya banned the practice in 2011 paving the way for the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011 that carries a minimum punishment of three years imprisonment and a Sh200,000 fine.