Isiolo, Marsabit leaders to engage Ethiopia over FGM

Marsabit girls who underwent 'medicalised' FGM.  Isiolo and Marsabit leaders have unveiled plans to approach Ethiopian authorities to help end the vice.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Isiolo and Marsabit leaders have unveiled plans to approach Ethiopian authorities and champions to launch a cross border initiative to end the vice.
  • Despite Kenya having a robust institutional, policy and legal frameworks, the practice continues in secret in some communities along the Ethiopia-Kenya border.

Isiolo and Marsabit leaders have unveiled plans to approach Ethiopian authorities and champions to launch a cross border initiative to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

They spoke during a recent Area Advisory Councils meeting that brought together different departments and actors from Isiolo and Marsabit at the Marsabit County Gender and Social Services offices.

Pastoralist Women for Health and Education CEO Shoba Mohammed Liban told nation.africa that they plan to approach Ethiopia for joint cross-border initiative to eradicate FGM in the region.

“We’re working on the modalities of reaching out to our neighbours in Ethiopia in the near future for a joint initiative aimed at eradicating FGM in Ethiopia and Kenya,” Ms Liban said.

Despite Kenya having a robust institutional, policy and legal frameworks coupled with increased awareness of the impacts of FGM, the practice continues in secret in some communities along the Ethiopia-Kenya border.

She claimed some Kenyan communities cross to the remote parts of Ethiopia when they want to subject their girls and women to FGM.

“If we win the intervention of clan elders and community decision-making organs in both countries and make a declaration against FGM, it will provide sustainable solutions towards the abandonment of the practice,” Ms Liban said.

She added that they aim at making a bilateral declaration to outlaw FGM and other forms of gender-based violence.

Forced marriages

The battle against FGM along the Ethiopia- Kenya received a boost last year when a declaration was made in keeping with the Borana community’s 41st Gumi Gayo (community elders) assembly held in the neighbouring Ethiopia on September 14, 2020.

The Gumi Gayo Assembly recently outlawed FGM and early, and forced marriages practised by the Borana community living in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Marsabit Central Assistant County Commissioner Festus Chepkwony said that decision-making in these communities rests entirely with the topmost clan elders.

He called on all the Isiolo and Marsabit counties frontrunners to reach out to the youth and elders through dialogue and educate communities on the negative health impacts of the cut and early marriage.

“You can’t win any wars against FGM unless you involve both the elders and youths,” Mr Chepkwony said.

At least 40 clans in the region, including nine from Samburu, Borana (17), Rendille (nine) and Gabra (five) in Isiolo, Marsabit and Samburu still subject their girls to the cut.

According to the United Nations, one in five women and girls aged between 15 and 49 in Kenya have undergone FGM.

Kenya criminalised FGM in 2011. The minimum punishment for perpetrators is three-year imprisonment and a fine of Sh200,000.

In June last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta committed to eradicating FGM by 2022.


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