Public Service and Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Hon. Rachel Shebesh held a meeting with Taita Taveta Chiefs in July where she warned them that they would be held responsible for escalating incidents of FGM in the County in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The CAS was concerned that FGM cases were on the upsurge during the Covid-19 period as schools remained closed. She was taken aback by revelations that residents had devised a new trend of cutting the clitoris of infants as young as a few weeks old using nails, to circumvent the law. It was revealed that the practice is done by relatives, particularly grandmothers or old women without the knowledge of parents.
The CAS stressed that the government was keen on protecting children and has enacted laws and formulated policies aimed at ending FGM in Kenya. She noted that the government will enact new regulations to fight the new trend in the county.
She read the riot act to the chiefs to take their oath of office seriously to eliminate the vice in the county and protect the lives and dignity of children and girls in the county.
“The prevalence of FGM in this county is at 22%. This calls for a collective effort in bringing all the perpetrators to book to end the vice. What we have heard here is shocking and unprecedented. Cutting an infant is a serious violation of their human right and the risks and dangers you subject them are so severe,” said Hon. Shebesh.
The Board Chairperson Ms. Agnes Pareyio, who had accompanied the CAS told the Chiefs to be more proactive in creating awareness through their barazas to end the vice.
“You live along the border where there are many incidents of cross border FGM of people moving in from the neighboring country and vice versa to practice FGM to evade law enforcers in their respective countries. As chiefs you know the business of everyone in your locality,” said Hon Pareyio adding that cross-border FGM is illegal.
Taita Taveta Women Representative Hon. Lydia Haika observed that as a leader from the region she was also opposed to the practice and called for its immediate end.
The Chairman of the Taita Taveta Council of Elders Mr. Ronald Mwasi pleaded that FGM had been overtaken by events and was no longer useful in the modern age. He decried that many homes had broken up as women affected by FGM had been neglected by their husbands.
“It is time to talk openly about FGM for the sake of future generations. We are aware that some rogue midwives, elderly women, and even parents are cutting girls immediately after birth. What trauma are you subjecting the girls as they grow?” he posed.