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Kajiado chief using informants to fight FGM

Despite increased efforts to fight Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at the national, regional, and international levels, the retrogressive cultural practice persists across the world and Kajiado County is no exception.

Parents in Kajiado have now devised new ways for their daughters to undergo the cut without the knowledge of the rest of the community members including chiefs and village elders.

It is for this reason, Maureen Maya, the Senior Assistant chief of the Irng’osuani Sub location in Kajiado Central, has placed informants in every location to curb the practice of FGM.

According to the administrator, most parents nowadays arrange to have the circumciser come to their homes where the children undergo the cut in secrecy while others send their daughters across the border into neighboring Tanzania and or in other counties where FGM is practiced. This has made her to devise ways to save the girls from the cut.

“In every village, I have placed an informer who is only known by me. They provide me with information regarding teenage girls who are about to be subjected to FGM and with that information, I call the child’s parents and inform them that am aware of what they intend to do and tell them the action I’ll take once they do it. This has instilled fear among the parents and has subsequently seen a drop in cases of FGM in my location,” Maya says.

The Chief says that her strategy has borne fruit such that people from as far as Magadi ward in Kajiado West Sub County and even Kwale county are calling her to provide such intelligence information.

She says when she receives such information, she relays it to the area chief and the Assistant County Commissioner so that action can be taken.

“Apart from placing informants, we also educate the parents about the side effects of FGM. If you try to force a different idea on someone without telling them why their perspective is wrong, they will automatically reject it, but if you educate them they will understand your point of view and will in turn embrace a new world view,” Maya said.

The chief also collects sanitary towels from well-wishers and distributes to the adolescent girls and widows during the holidays.

While distributing the towels, she uses the opportunity to engage with the girls and gets to know their concerns and how best to address them.

“My main challenge though is the cross border and inter-County FGM where girls cross over to Tanzania or neighboring counties to undergo the cut then come back to their homes after,” says the chief.

Maya also sometimes gets the information late when the girl has already undergone the cut. In such a case, she usually takes the affected girl to hospital and with the help of the police gets the parents and the ‘cutters’ arrested.

Another challenge that the chief faces is that most roads in Kajiado are impassable due to the rough terrain thus hindering rescue efforts.

She notes that she has so far rescued hundreds of girls who were being subjected to the cut and a week ago, she had arrested a woman who subjected her daughter to FGM.

“Most of the girls I rescued are now in rescue centers including one I had rescued last week. We took her to hospital since she has already undergone the cut and we arrested her mother who was arraigned before the Kajiado Law courts. Though she is out on bond, the case is ongoing,” said Maya.

The senior assistant chief not only rescues girls but also ensures that the widows and the vulnerable children in her location are well taken care of.

The retrogressive practice is mostly rampant during the long December holidays.

In 2019, Kajiado launched a policy to end FGM at the community level. The policy proposed the alternative rite of passage as a key intervention.

In November 2021, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, and Ethiopia launched a regional action plan to end cross-border FGM which has been classified as one of the biggest challenges in the fight against the vice.

By Diana Meneto

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