The fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Marsabit County appeared to take form with elders and religious leaders declaring their support for the crusade against the outlawed practice.
Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for gender and public service Rachel Shebesh also directed the county commissioner Paul Rotich to take lead and ensure national government administration officers played their role as expected in the fight against FGM.
Ms Shebesh who was the chief guest during the international day of the girl child celebrations held at Sololo primary school commended the Borana council of elders for the commitment in the war against the vice adding that chiefs and the local government administration from both levels of government had no excuse for not winning the fight.
Both religious and cultural leaders expressed their support to end female genital mutilation with the CAS saying that the great influence that they hold over issues concerning the community would be used to influence the desired need of abandoning the practice.
Ms Shebesh appealed to the stakeholders to ensure the vice is eradicated so as to accord the girl child an enabling environment to grow.
The elders took centre stage during the event where they presented a declaration with a raft of rules aimed at not only safeguarding the rights of the targeted but would enrich the President’s directive that the vice be done away with by 2022.
She pointed out that FGM was intertwined with early marriage and teenage pregnancies which are not only demeaning but a violation of women rights.
Ms Shebesh charged the local administration to aid the elders and other players like AMREF who are engaged in the fight against vices being meted against women and the girl child by enforcing the law as required.
“I am cautioning you that it is your principal duty to ensure that no FGM is carried out in areas that you oversee otherwise the results won’t be pleasing” the chiefs were warned.
According to the chairperson of the Borana Council of Elders Philip Galmah, religious and cultural leaders had agreed to unit in ending the practice as demanded by the president.
A declaration made in keeping with the Borana community’s 41st Gumi Gayo (Community elders) Assembly held in Ethiopia last month outlawing FGM and rape, incest, teen pregnancies and also emphasized on equal treatment of the boy and girl child.
Marsabit County First Lady Alamitu Jattani applauded the move by the council of elders which she described as bold saying it would help in bringing the harmful practice to an end.
Ms Jattani called for community dialogue and intensifying of anti-FGM awareness campaigns and education of people on local vernacular stations so that the campaign gets to the grassroots.
Through her base, Mama Guyo Foundation the county first lady pledged more awareness campaigns against FGM and urged for a multi-sectoral approach in the fight against the harmful but entrenched practice.
Ms Jattani said that a rescue centre that would offer refuge to victims of gender based violations that include FGM and early marriages was being constructed by the county government at Loglogo in Laisamis Constituency.
She appealed to the national government to consider funding the establishment of such a facility in Moyale Constituency to cater for victims in the upper part of the county.
“I am optimistic that we are going to end FGM in this region by 2022 now that we have the backing of the elders who shape the opinions on virtually all socio-cultural matters” she said and asked the anti-fgm board to do universal campaigns so that no community is left behind.
On her part, the Anti-FGM Board chairperson Agnes Pareyio, expressed satisfaction that progressive steps and which were yielding fruits had been made in the fight against the practice.
Ms Pareyio said that the practice was still common in 22 counties across the country but more widespread in Marsabit and urged local communities to shun the retrogressive practice as it has no benefits to women and girls.
The function was also attended by Marsabit County government secretary Eng Joseph Guyo.
By Sebastian Miriti