A Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Mandera County has launched a youth football tournament to propagate information on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Habiba International Women and Youths Affairs which is a non-profit making organisation unveiled an anti-FGM football league which brought together youths from different parts of vast border county of Mandera.
Speaking at Geneva grounds in Mandera East Sub County where the league kicked off, Abdi Salam Ahmed North Eastern Football Kenya Federation representative welcomed the initiative saying it will create awareness among the youth to reject the retrogressive practice.
He said the league brought together youth from different wards who were critical in spreading word to bring to an end the practice recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women but which locals were still abetting.
“I want to thank Habiba International Women and youths Affairs for such an initiative of using sports as a tool to end FGM in our country,” said Ahmed
He added that Football had so many fans in Mandera and it’s a perfect avenue to spread information as well as combating the abusive act.
“Kindly take this message home, let’s those still practicing the illegal and incredibly painful act understand the negative impact of the act on our girls and women health,” he said.
Ahmed pointed out that though many youths involves in sports in the county, government has not focused on nurturing their talents. He urged both levels government to at least construct one stadium in Mandera to help nurture talents.
He requested fencing of Geneva grounds where most sports in the county takes place.
On her part Habiba Hussein the founder of Habiba International women and Youths Affairs thanked all the stakeholders confirming receiving assistance from UNICEF and Anti FGM Board.
“I want to thank UNICEF and Anti FGM Board for supporting us to gather youth together to spread the message of ending FGM,a dangerous culture viewed here as perfectly normal and acceptable,” she decried.
Habiba added that Football, a male dominated sports, is the right avenue to spread anti FGM information hoping that they will become ambassadors against the harmful act.
Local organization also helps in girl child education, drought mitigation and peace building among warring clans.
Kenya has strong laws and punishment against FGM and its perpetrators but winning hearts and minds is a challenge. The practice is deeply rooted in Kenyans cultures and cuts across class, religion and ethnic groups.
By Charles Matacho