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Fight against FGM bear fruits in Marsabit County

Support for investments to help end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is bearing fruits in Marsabit County, with more girls now being enrolled in school.

FGM practitioners have also been sensitized about the illegality of the practice and why the rite is no longer appropriate.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Pastoralists Women for Health and Education, Shoba Liban, said the NGO with the support from UNICEF, has been spearheading the war against FGM and early marriage for the last eight (8) months, in Marsabit and Isiolo counties.

Speaking during a ceremony to mark the International Day for Zero Tolerance on FGM at St Theresa Boarding Primary School, Ms Liban said the fight has gotten backing from local community leadership with the Abagatha Borana Council of Elders, having thrown their weight behind the push.

The Council made a declaration at Gumi Gayo in Ethiopia, outlawing FGM practice among the Borana community two years ago, which has greatly helped in checking the cross border FGM.

“Parents can no longer take their daughters across the border to undergo the cut freely as they used to do,” she said, adding that the prevalent rate is still high but progressively on the decline.

Enrolment of girls to school enables them to get useful information about FGM as learning institutions are targets in the spread of the message against the outlawed practice.

The NGO which has teamed up with the Marsabit Women Advocacy for Development (MWADO) and CBO, operating in Marsabit has also brought on Board the UNFPA-Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), in a bid to accelerate the awareness and fight against FGM.

The Officials from the three organizations held sessions with girl pupils and women teachers at the schools where the message to end the harmful cultural practice is relayed.

According to the CEO the high rate of maternal deaths in Marsabit and other pastoralist communities inhabited counties who still discreetly practice the cut is largely attributed to the practice due to postpartum hemorrhage caused by complications arising from the mutilation.

She added that the practitioners have been educated on decent ways of earning a living by going for business credit being offered by the government through Uwezo and women enterprise fund kitties.

UNFPA –YAP member Suleka Abdikadir noted with appreciation the impetus given to the fight against FGM through involvement of the youth.

Ms Suleka said the government through President Kenyatta’s commitment and support to eradicate the vice has been a big catch in the war against practice.

The sentiments were echoed by MWADO Programmes Officer Ibrahim Dalle who said that the fight against harmful cultural practices required political will.

By engaging the youth at all levels including boda boda operators and school leavers as ambassadors of change has seen young men emerge as protectors of their female siblings from the cut.

Mr Dalle noted that male youths were now ready to marry girls who have not undergone FGM which he notes was a pointer to brighter days ahead.

A study recently carried out by UNICEF and the Anti-FGM Board showed that women and girls were still being subjected to the cut with the rate alarmingly standing at about 91 per cent.

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011 criminalizes all forms of FGM/C performed on anyone, regardless of age or status including training to become an FGM practitioner.

By Sebastian Miriti

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