A Bishop who once peddled drugs in his home area of Mwanika, Igembe Central Sub County, has now turned into an Anti-FGM Crusader in Meru region.
Bishop Julius Gitari, from the Jerusalem International Gospel Church (JIGC) is working to ensure that no girl from Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties will ever again be subjected to the retrogressive cultural practice, which has since been outlawed in the country.
He argues that circumcision of girls among the Meru community was denting the image of the young girls in the region, who may end up not getting suitors from other communities that don’t practice the vice.
“The world is fast changing and we need to move with the modern times even as the church. Men no longer prefer circumcised ladies and this is the dilemma we do not want our girls to face,” said the outspoken Bishop, adding that victims of FGM, sometimes feel inferior in the presence of their peers, who appear successful especially in education and professional careers.
Bishop Gitari has been holding seminars particularly for women in Igembe Central, North and South Sub Counties as well as Tharaka, Isiolo and Buuri Sub Counties to train them on the dangers of FGM and need to promote education of the girl child.
He targets women because they are widely believed to be the culprits who influence and even force their daughters to undergo the cut.
Some of them even argue that they will be cursed by their ancestors if they don’t ensure their daughters go through the ritual.
“As a church, we have decided to take the fight against FGM in a different way by educating women on ways of eradicating the vice from our communities.
We took this initiative after realizing that the practice was deeply rooted in the region,” said Bishop Gitari lamenting that a girl from his home village died two months ago, due to excessive bleeding after undergoing the cut.
The cleric, who has opened churches in several parts of Meru County affirms that he usually draws his energy to fight such battles from Jeremiah 51:20, “You are my war club, my weapon for battle, with you I shatter nations, and with you I destroy kingdoms.”
He said together with fellow preachers of the word, they have resolved to direct their energy and available resources to completely eliminate the vice from the region.
“We have realised our national government leaders including chiefs were dragging their feet in this noble cause and we are not ready to sit and watch as things get out of hand. There is no pride in having our girls mutilated in the name of culture,” said Gitari.
He added that their campaign will largely be done by way of teaching residents the dangers and effects of FGM.
However, the church will not be sympathetic to those found abetting FGM in any form and such culprits will be named and shamed publicly in their churches.
“Some of our members are still engaging in the outlawed practice and we will not spare them because we want to engage in a progressive agenda that will in the long run enable us to grow economically,” he said.
By Dickson Mwiti