Spare girls from the December cut

Kuria West Deputy County Commissioner Andrew Mwiti, signs a memorandum of understanding with Kuria elders to end FGM in the area on October 8, 2021. Despite this, the cut is still ongoing.

Photo credit: Ian Byron | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Migori County Commissioner Meru Mwangi said they had rescued six girls aged 10-16 and taken them to a shelter in the last week.
  • Even with the two-week break, girls'  risk to the cut is not any less going by a tweet, security agents and anti-FGM crusaders.

On December 22, 2021, Youth Advocates Kenya tweeted “Two girls and a man who helped hid the cutter have been arrested by police today morning at Boremagongo village, Bugumbe West location.”

“But the cutter ran away after cutting over 30 girls! Is there collusion between @PoliceKE (Kenya Police Service) and some community members to aid FGM (female genital mutilation? #StopKuriaFGMNow”

This is a tweet referring to ongoing FGM in Migori County just a day after the primary schools closed. Girls are often taken for the cut during the long December holidays. But even with the two-week break, their risk to the cut is not any less going by the tweet, security agents and anti-FGM crusaders.

During a December 21 webinar on ending FGM in Kuria, Migori County Commissioner Meru Mwangi said they had rescued six girls aged 10-16 and taken them to a shelter in the last week.

He said the multi-agency team on FGM is currently effecting “Operation phase out FGM” in the county and encouraged the public to report such incidents lest they get arrested for abetting the crime.

He said they have reinforced surveillance during the night since the girls are taken for the cut past 9pm.

Committing a violation

“Yesterday (December 21) we arrested five parents who allowed the illegal ceremony to take place,” he said during the webinar by End FGM Live, an online show by an anti-FGM activist Jeremiah Kipainoi.

“They will be taken to court and charged for failure to report the crime and also assisting in committing the violation,” he added.

He cautioned those exporting the girls to Tanzania to undergo the harmful practice that the law will catch up with them.

“”We shall still follow them up; a crime is a crime regardless of whether it is committed in Tanzania or Kenya,” he said.

Kenya’s legislation, the Prohibition of FGM Act 2011, outlaws the cut on girls and women, and further prohibits cross-border FGM. Under the law, an offender can earn a jail-term of not less than three years or a fine not below Sh200,000

But even with the operations of the multi-agency team, which brings together the police, local administration and civil society, the speed of response is slow, which beats the target of preventing the act from taking place in the first place.

“The multi-agency team need to make efforts to rescue girls before they are cut,” said Vincent Mwita, an anti-FGM activist during the webinar.

“The police arrive at the scene when the girls have already undergone the cut. Instead they should be there before it happens,” he added.


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