Out of school morans in Samburu County have been engaged in discussions aimed at eliminating negative cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and teenage pregnancies that are rampant in the area.
Speaking to the morans at Leshoo village in Samburu West, Kenya Finland Bilateral Programme Coordinator Josephine Lengopito talked of the negative effects of FGM such as excessive bleeding during childbirth that often leads to death.
At the same time, she encouraged the morans to normalize marrying women who have not undergone FGM saying that their stand on not marrying uncut girls has contributed to a lot of stigma towards the uncut girls in the community.
“During the 2021 Kisima Declaration, Samburu elders declared an end to FGM in the county and blessed those who had not undergone FGM giving them a go ahead to freely participate in traditional ceremonies such as marriage. We are appealing to morans to follow the elders’ declaration,” she said.
The young men between the ages of 14 to 24 years were sensitized on the triple threat facing Samburu County which is Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), FGM and HIV.
They were also advised against engaging in unprotected sex which has resulted to high teenage pregnancies and a spike in new HIV infections in Samburu County.
“According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2022, Samburu County leads in teenage pregnancies at 50 per cent. We are also leading in new HIV infections among young people in the country. This is largely contributed by FGM which leads to child marriages and also young people engaging in unprotected sex,” she said.
During the dialogues, the elders who signed the Kisima Declaration on behalf of nine Samburu clans explained to the morans why FGM and child marriages should end at the same time clearing the misconceptions associated with the declaration.
“Many people especially those in the remote areas think that during the declaration we blessed FGM and child marriage to continue so we continue telling them that we declared an end to these vices and vowed to work with the government towards eradicating them,” David Lentiyo a Samburu elder said.
On their part, the morans agreed to marry girls who have not undergone FGM and also agreed to be ambassadors of the anti FGM campaigns and supports efforts to end child marriage.
They also called on the health department to supply them with condoms especially in the interior parts of the county.
“There is a lot we do not know about HIV. We sometimes hear it on the radio while we are grazing but with such continuous engagements, we will be in a position to protect ourselves,” said Lkimiri Lelkumani, a Samburu moran.
By Robert Githu