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Fight against cross-border FGM stepped up

Fight against cross-border and infant’s Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Taita-Taveta County went a notch higher after several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) agreed to enhance cooperation with rights’ groups in Tanzania where most culprits escape to.

Ms. Caroline Nkirote, Coordinator for Action Aid in the region, said Taita-Taveta was ranked amongst the counties with highest rate of infants undergoing FGM.

She further noted other communities living near Kenya-Tanzania borders sneaked their girls across the border to Tanzania for the rite before returning them home. This makes it difficult for action to be taken against the culprits hence the need for organizations in both countries focused on matters FGM to work together to help cripple the vice.

Speaking in Voi during a training for stakeholders on Saturday, Ms. Nkirote noted that FGM was an outdated practice that continued to be exercised by some communities to the detriment of the girl child.

The training, whose theme was ‘Tackling Barriers against Girls Education’ brought together officials from local rights groups, police officers, faith-based organizations and children department.

“FGM is a dehumanizing exercise that adversely affects girls and should be eliminated,” she said.

She revealed that research on how FGM affected education was still underway and noted most of the victims were unaware of their status because they underwent the rite at a very tender age.

The training was also intended to formulate a workable policy framework on how to tackle such a menace from grassroots level.

According to Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) of 2014, Taita-Taveta County was first in Kenya with the highest number of FGM cases performed on girls aged below five years. Cases in the region were at a staggering 61.3 per cent while Mijikenda was a distance second at 27.8 per cent.

Ms. Makrina Mwamburi, an official with Sauti ya Wanawake, said FGM was still prevalent in several villages though it was difficult to detect because it was done in secret and on infants. She added that creation of awareness and tackling factors that lead families into embracing such vices were paramount to winning the war.

“We will engage Tanzania stakeholders to step up border monitoring and make sure FGM will not be conducted in Tanzania by communities from Kenya,” she said.

By Wagema Mwangi

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