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Stakeholders asked to renew fight against FGM

The fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya requires a multi-faceted approach and collaboration among all stakeholders.

According to Jackson Sokoine, Director, Maasai Transformation Organisation (MATRO), a Non-Governmental Organization, total eradication of the vice needs concerted efforts among stakeholders as the practice is deeply rooted in culture.

Sokoine, who was speaking in Rombo Kajiado South during a community leaders’ sensitisation meeting against FGM, noted despite FGM being outlawed in Kenya in 2011, the act still continues among some communities albeit in secrecy to evade the law.

According to The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014-2015), 21 per cent of women and girls, aged 15-49, have undergone some form of FGM and 3 out of 10 girls in Kenya today face the risk of undergoing FGM.

“At 78%, the FGM prevalence rate in Kajiado County is among the highest in Kenya,” Sokoine revealed adding perpetrators had resorted to sneaking girls out of the country to Tanzania through the border at Tarakea and Loitokitok where they undergo the cut before they are sneaked back in, hampering efforts to fight the vice.

“Eradication of FGM needs concerted efforts and collaboration among all stakeholders. The vice is still rampant especially among pastoralists communities despite it being outlawed in Kenya in 2011 and is now even done across borders,” he said.

The Director noted that efforts to eradicate the ‘cut’ has been greatly hampered by lack of education, a conspiracy of silence by the community and resistance to change.

He urged the Maasai Community to abandon outdated cultural practices such as FGM and early marriages which continue to infringe on the rights of the girls and women.

“Once a girl undergoes FGM she is considered ready for marriage thus is unable to continue with her education. It is a high time these outdated cultural practices are done away with as they have no value,” said Sokoine.

Anthony Sankaine, MATRO Programme Coordinator, echoed Sokoine’s sentiments adding that community dialogues have helped to sustain momentum in the fight against FGM.

Sankaine revealed that youth, women, morans and elders were all being involved in community dialogues and sensitized on the harmful cultural practices.

“We are involving the youth, morans, women and men in community dialogues and sensitisation programmes. Men being the decision makers in the families are able to stop their daughters from undergoing FGM, while morans are encouraged to marry uncircumcised girls,” he said.

According to Risper Kitur, Assistant County Commissioner, Rombo Division, cross border FGM is a major challenge as the girls are sneaked out of the country through the porous border in pretense of visiting relatives in the neighbouring Tanzania.

“Girls are sneaked using boda boda operators at night through the border to Tanzania where they are cut and stay there until they heal before returning to Kenya. The practice is done in utmost secrecy that you cannot even know when it happened,” said Kitur.

The ACC warned that FGM is a criminal offence under the prohibition of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011, the Children’s Act and the penal code and warned parents who allow their girls to undergo the cut that they will be arrested and persecuted.

By Rop Janet

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