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A call to abstain from retrogressive cultural practices

As the world celebrated International Women Day, calls to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and gender based violence dominated the occasion in Garissa County.

Speaking in Benane, Lagdera sub-county during the event, Director General for National Council for Population Development (NCPD) Mohamed Abdikadir called on the security agencies to do more to ensure those who perpetrate gender-based violence face the full force of the law.

Abdikadir cautioned area elders against using traditional means of solving disputes such as ‘Maslaha’ on FGM and gender based violence cases.

“Sexual and gender based violence cases are being reported but they are not completed in terms of prosecution because they end up in ‘Maslaha’ and that’s why we are here to educate the elders and women to understand their roles,” Abdikadir said.

“As a community, we need to shun using ‘Maslaha’ to settle matters touching on GBV so as to deter future perpetrators from thinking they could escape justice easily,” he added.

Garissa County Gender CEC Zainab Digale noted that while the alternative dispute resolution has been good on other issues like divorce and family disputes in the region, it should not be used to settle criminal offenses.

“We have benefited from ‘Maslaha’ in many ways but the issue of criminal acts, we all stand at the same place saying that no ‘Maslaha’ can be used to solve these issues,” Digale said.

Hindia Adan, a Garissa residents says that once the cases are solved through ‘Maslaha’ which is purely dominated by the elders, victims of FGM and GBV do not get the payments agreed to settle the matter.

“Women cannot be allowed in the meetings and once the fines are settled on, we do not benefit from them because it is divided amongst the members of the meeting,” Hidia said.

The theme for this year’s event was Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ in recognition and celebration of the women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation and response, and to honor their leadership and contribution towards a sustainable future.

Health for women and girls is endangered by climate change with research indicating that extreme heat increases incidences of stillbirth, and climate change is increasing the spread of vector-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue fever which are linked to worse maternal and neonatal outcomes.

By Erick Kyalo

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