What you need to know:
- One girl sat her KCPE exam last month, while four were Grade Six pupils who took their Kenya Primary School Examination Assessment test last month.
- Of the four, two, both aged 13, sat their exam at Wizara Primary School, while the other two, aged 12 and 13, were at Igena and Nyaigutu primary schools respectively.
Police in Migori have rescued five teenagers who were set to be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) in Ntunyigi village, Bukira East, Kuria West.
Four of the girls were Grade Six pupils who took their Kenya Primary School Examination Assessment test last month. Of the four, two, both aged 13, sat their exam at Wizara Primary School, while the other two, aged 12 and 13, were at Igena and Nyaigutu primary schools respectively.
The other girl, 13, sat her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam at St Kizito Primary School. They were busted in a home of a circumciser by police officers who acted on a tip-off. The girls’ parents fled, alongside the circumciser.
“Their parents escaped, but we are pursuing them. We have intensified our surveillance at the border to ensure they do not cross over to the neighbouring country,” county police commander Mark Wanjala told Nation.Africa on the phone.
Mr Wanjala added that his officers were keen to thwart any effort to subject girls to the cut, especially during this festive season. The Kuria region is one of the FGM hotspots.
He said the girls were taken to Kehancha Police Station and would be transferred to a safe house and given psychological support.
During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which ended on Saturday, state and non-state gender actors said they were would involve men in fighting harmful practices. The theme was ‘Upscaling male involvement in ending GBV’.
Activists noted with concern the prevalent cases of FGM, teenage pregnancies and early marriages as some of the major problems affecting girls. So unfortunate is the situation that many girls drop out of school.
Suna East Deputy County Commissioner Benson Karani averred that cross-border FGM is likely to occur during this holiday but expressed optimism that they will remain hawk-eyed to arrest perpetrators.
Also read: Kuria men commit to FGM eradication
“We will be focusing more on sensitisation of men. As we know, women are the most affected and in many instances, the perpetrators are men. Therefore, we will target more of them like the boda bodas, the fishermen in Nyatike and law enforcers across the border of Kenya and Tanzania so that we can have a good working environment,” Mr Karani said.
He added that instead of forcing young girls to undergo FGM, society should empower them through education.
Mr Karani took pride in the measures the government had taken to engage community elders so that FGM becomes a thing of the past. Thought admitting that cross-border circumcision remains an impediment, he said they had made remarkable progress.
“We are very much aware of what is going on and as schools close, we know that our girls are under threat. However, we have instructed government officers in the four sub-counties of Kuria to remain vigilant and arrest any perpetrator. We will not look back.”
Ms Lilian Gomo, an officer from the county government under the Department of Gender, Culture and Youth Affairs, said they were working tirelessly to eradicate GBV in Migori.
She added that Governor Ochillo Ayacko's administration had partnered with other stakeholders to ensure girls are safe. “As a department, we are making sure that the cultural practices that might endanger girls are eradicated while advocating safe alternatives,” Ms Gomo said.
Last year, Migori County launched the Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence County Policy that was meant to curb violence, early marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM) and teenage pregnancies.
In solidarity, gender actors staged a walk from Posta Grounds to Migori's bus park after lighting candles to remember those who have died or been maimed through GBV.