By Kipilat Kapusya
An elder and activist in West Pokot has called on the government to set funds aside for translation of the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) law into local languages to help sensitize and discourage practice of the vice in the area.
Speaking during an anti-FGM sensitization meeting in Kapenguria, Selina Chepkeriker argued that although the FGM ban, effected in 2011, has helped to change attitudes towards the practice, it has also driven the practice underground.
Selina said that perpetrators of the vice had changed tact and were doing it at night.
She added that there was urgent need for campaigns to change cultural perception on FGM and child marriage and acknowledging the practices as human rights violations with harmful consequences.
Selina called on local politicians to aid in constructing safe houses and shelters to protect young girls.
“We are happy to note that the [anti-FGM] fight is yielding fruits because ten years ago when I initiated such a campaign, the prevalence rate in this area was 100 per cent but through many sessions of sensitization, workshops and seminars and forums, the practice has reduced and many people are leaving it,” she said.
Pokot Girl Child Network Coordinator Teresa Lokichu challenged the government to enforce the anti FGM law more aggressively by and prosecuting perpetrators.
Lokichu noted that the fight was far from over and there was need for more sensitization and campaigns.
Pokot North Sub County Commissioner James Ajuang said that they have decided to work with NGOs and local leaders and sensitize people as well as prosecute those who take part in FGM.
He said a lot more work still needs to be done to eradicate the practice.
“This is a deep-rooted culture and you cannot wipe out a culture in one go. But one day we hope we shall end it as more girls attend school and become aware of its dangers,” he said.
Despite Kenya having passed the anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act into law in 2011, the vice is still rampant in many pastoral communities.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), FGM in West Pokot County stands at 75 percent posing great danger to the women’s reproductive health and wellbeing.