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Perpetrators of FGM taking advantage of Covid-19 restrictions

The perpetrators of Female Genital Mutilations (FGM) are now taking advantage of schools closure and the Covid-19 restrictions to carry out the vice.

 

Speaking after training youth on usage of social media for advocacy in Garissa town, Womankind Kenya’s programme coordinator Maryan Abdirahman said those carrying out the cut have ample time since many people are confined in their homes.

 

Maryan claimed that girls as young as age three are now undergoing FGM ‘undetected’ adding that previously only girls aged 10 and above were undergoing the cut.

 

“Because of the curfew and general restrictions of movement as results of the Covid-19, women circumcisers are having a field day,” Maryan said.

 

School closure due to the pandemic she noted has largely contributed to the surge in FGM ‘because there is enough time for the practice and even healing’.

 

In a programme they have partnered with Unicef Kenya, she said Womankind is also involving other stakeholders including youth, Nyumba Kumi as well as whistleblowers to contain the vice.

 

Womankind Kenya has been in the forefront in advocating for the girls’ education as well campaign against gender based violence.

 

The organisation noted that the increase in FGM ‘is a worrying trend that other actors including the government need to be concerned’.

 

Maryam said they have also close working relationship with the judiciary that has a programme in place, the judicial service week, to listen to cases touching on children.

 

In 2011 Kenya passed a law that prohibits Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and imposes tough penalties on perpetrators and those abetting the practice.

 

The law not only bans the practice in Kenya but also prohibits cross-border FGM and bars medical caregivers from carrying out the practice. In addition, the law holds that consent cannot be cited as an excuse for conducting FGM.

 

In North Eastern region the Somali community has the highest prevalence of FGM. A shocking 94 percent perform this violation, and 5 percent of women and 6 percent of men ‘believe that it is required by their religion’.

 

By Jacob Songok

 

 

 

 

 

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