Wednesday September 30, 2020
FGM WAR: Wair Deputy Governor Ahmed Mukhta (4th R), Anti-FGM Board chairperson Agnes Pareiyo (3rd R) and senior county officials during a sensitisation meeting.Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
The government has raised concerns over the increase in cases of female genital mutilation in Wajir county.
This follows the disclosure that 110 girls below the age of 18 have undergone the cut since June. The statistics were given by the county children’s department during a sensitisation workshop organised by the Anti-FGM Board in Wajir.
The event brought together government officials, elders, clerics, local administrators, women and activists. Parents were blamed for refusing to abandon the outlawed practice.
The surge in cases has come when children are at home following the closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some parents took advantage of the shutdown to have their daughters circumcised.
Agnes Pareiyo, the chairperson of the Anti-FGM Board, said lack of honesty on the part of some people, especially parents, is to blame for the resurgence.
“It is unfortunate that we are still talking about FGM in this day and age. If I’m to be honest with you, the problem lies squarely with the parents and guardians who take our young daughters to face the cut, because if you were at the forefront of protecting them, then we would not be hearing of this cases at all,” she said.
County commissioner Jacob Narengo directed chiefs and their assistants to furnish his office with the list of all women condoning the practice.
“I have said this in previous meetings with you and I will repeat that the buck stops with you, the local administrators. You are the government’s eye on the ground.
“For us to end this retrogressive practice, you must be at the forefront of ensuring that these people [circumcisers] and the parents who are known to be carrying out the exercise are all arrested and we take them to court,” he said.
Narengo said the government will remain steadfast in its efforts to eradicate the vice, which he said brings a lot of pain to the girlchild.
Maryan Hussein, a women’s rights activists, said the time has come for anti-FGM advocates to change strategy to win the war.
She said that in recent years, circumcisors collude with parents to mutilate girls secretly, especially in remote villages where they cannot be easily caught.
Statistics show that 9.5 million girls below the age of 18 are cut every year. The Somali community leads at 98 per cent, followed by the Samburu at 94 per cent.
Two weeks ago, Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh, while meeting administrators in Garissa, said the government targets to eliminate FGM by 2022.