Slain police officer lauded for anti-FGM mission

Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa at a function to mark the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation at Sambirir in Chesoi, Elgeyo Marakwet County, on February 6, 2024.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The CS directed government administrators in the 22 hotspot counties to name perpetrators to face the law. 
  • The practice was outlawed in Kenya in 2011 but remains rampant in some communities.

Gender Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa has called for the prosecution of those who murdered a police officer who rescued six young girls from female genital mutilation in Elgeyo Marakwet last December.

Ms Jumwa lauded anti-FGM campaigners on Tuesday and warned that attacks on them were threatening efforts aimed at ending female genital mutilation (FGM).

The officer was killed by a gang that was protecting circumcisers in Embobut forest as the harmful rite of passage was underway.

“We want those who killed that officer and attacked other campaigners to be arrested and arraigned. We want them brought to book because they are slowing government efforts with other partners to eradicate FGM,” Ms Jumwa said.

She attended an event to mark the International Day for Zero Tolerance for FGM at Chesoi in Marakwet East.

The Cabinet Secretary also directed chiefs in the 22 FGM hotspot counties to name perpetrators to face the law. 

“Where are village elders, chiefs and security agencies when all this is happening? Chiefs who fail to report are enemies of progress.”

Also present was Anti-FGM Board CEO Bernadette Resian and local women leaders.

Ms Jumwa regretted that the vice, a form of gender-based violence (GBV), was still practised despite being outlawed.

“We continue to implement laws against GBV and FGM so that our girls and women feel protected. We want to move from 15 per cent [prevalence] to zero.”

The CS paid tribute to the slain police officer for his efforts to rescue girls. Embobut Parish priest Amos Kimutai was also recognised, among other anti-FGM campaigners.

Ms Jumwa urged men to come out and speak against the social vices in their communities to provide safe spaces for young girls and women.

Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Grace Cheserek and Woman Representative Caroline Ngelechei called for concerted efforts to end FGM.

The women leaders cited Embobut and Endo wards as some of the epicentres of FGM.

Prof Cheserek noted that more than 105 girls had been rescued in the county last year. She called for more resources to set up rescue centres.

“We also need to work with all stakeholders to review the curriculum for alternative rites of passage for our young girls.

"In the county, we don’t have a rescue shelter for our girls and we are reaching out to partners to support us to set up some.”

Former Marakwet East MP Lina Jebii Kilimo, herself an anti-FGM crusader, appealed to residents to shun the practice, noting that it adversely affecting girls’ health and education.

Ms Kilimo also hit out at a section of professionals for promoting the vice.

“It is sad that some professionals are letting us down, you saying mwacha mila ni mtumwa, yet you are beneficiaries of anti-FGM campaigns...shame on you.

“Some are going round saying you must undergo the cut to get married, but look, I am married to an engineer, I am a first woman minister from the Rift Valley, was ranked as the best MP, I am a mother, yet I did not undergo the cut...

"Today, we should declare that this is the last time we are talking about this.”