The traditional belief pushing Pokot girls to FGM 

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The traditional belief pushing Pokot girls to FGM 

What you need to know:

  • If a girl dies before undergoing FGM, misfortunes will befall her family.
  • There are allegedly many bizarre things families are doing to save themselves from the bad omen.
  • Girl was reportedly cut before she was buried.
  • Despite the rise of cases being attributed to the Covid-19, the traditional belief has fuelled a rise in the outlawed practice.
  • An assistant chief who subjected his two daughters to FGM and two police reservists who allowed their daughters to undergo the cut, have been arrested.

“If a girl dies before undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) misfortunes will befall her family.”
This traditional belief by communities in West Pokot County has seen a sharp rise in FGM cases, I-Am Responsible Foundation has revealed. 
Founder Domtila Chesang told the Nation gender desk that this has resulted in girls offering themselves for the cut to protect their families.
“The situation is so dire that we are hearing of bizarre things families are doing to save themselves from the bad omen. In Mosop Location, we got word that a man exhumed the body of an uncut girl to perform the vice,” she said. 
“Another girl was reportedly cut before she was buried,” she added.
The emerging trend has terrified girls even as the government swung into action to contain the rise of the vice.

CAMPAIGN

Officials from the national government have teamed up with the county administration and anti-FGM crusaders in the region to rescue girls from the cut.  
Despite the rise of cases being attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic that has forced girls stay-at-home, the traditional belief has fuelled a rise in the outlawed practice.
To curb the emerging trend, Ms Chesang said their campaign is to change mind sets, especially that of the girls. 
She added that the campaign also targets the elders and parents, some of who have been peddling the emerging cultural belief on non-circumcised girls.
So far, one assistant chief who subjected his two daughters to FGM and two police reservists who allowed their daughters to undergo the cut, have been arrested.
Two female circumcisers have also been arrested and three girls who have undergone the cut will now act as witnesses in cases presented in court.
Last week, the Anti-FGM Board top management held a crisis meeting with Rift Valley regional commissioner Mr George Natembeya at his Nakuru office where they discussed ways to end the vice in the region.
In a statement, the board said three chiefs have been interdicted for abetting the practice.
“We will not rest until all law enforcers abetting the practice are brought to book. The police in the area are pursuing the parents who have subjected their daughters to FGM,” read the statement in part. 
The campaign to end FGM has been holding village-to-village talks to protect girls from the cut in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The team has, so far, rescued 17 girls. The police are pursuing their parents who fled after they were ambushed.

TOUGH PENALTIES

The Nation recently published the story on the spike of FGM cases in West-Pokot County, which had reached alarming levels since schools were closed in March by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
On 2011, Kenya passed law that prohibits FGM and imposes tough penalties on perpetrators and those abetting the practice.
The law not only bans the practice but also prohibits cross-border FGM, and bars medical caregivers from carrying out the practice.
In addition, the law holds that consent cannot be cited as an excuse for conducting FGM.
The anti-FGM law carries a minimum punishment of three years imprisonment and a Sh200,000 fine - the most comprehensive anti-FGM legislation in East Africa.
The prevalence of FGM in women aged 15–49 is 21 per cent in the country. The region with the highest prevalence is in the North-Eastern region. 
Here, 42.6 per cent of women aged 15–49 who have undergone FGM, were cut between the ages of 10 and 14.
 

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