The Presidential Directive to end FGM was cascaded in Garissa County with two meetings in Garissa town and Ijara constituency with the former meeting culminating in a renowned cutter downing her tools of the trade which she surrendered to Public Service and Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Hon. Rachel Shebesh.
The ex-cutter from the Yumata location in Garissa County received Ksh 100,000 from Uwezo Fund to start alternative means of income. She had been a renowned cutter for years, plying the illegal trade across the county and in the neighboring counties.
The meetings involved the National Government Administrative Officers and other stakeholders in the campaigns to end FGM in the county and were presided over by CAS Hon. Shebesh accompanied by Board Chairperson Hon. Agnes Pareyio.
The CAS encouraged more cutters to down their tools and surrender them to the County Commissioner’s office or the Chief’s office. She further urged them to form groups to benefit from linkages to affirmative action funds for capital to start alternative income-generating ventures.
The CAS further asked the administrators to move out to every corner of their locations creating awareness on the Anti-FGM law and the adverse consequences of FGM to girls and women. She called on them to identify all the cutters and summon them to stop the practice and the law will deal with those unwilling to stop the vice.
“We have given you information and it is up to you to implement the law. Encourage cutters who are willing to stop the practice to surrender their tools of the trade to you and afterward link them with county officers in charge of affirmative funds domiciled in the Ministry of Public Service and Gender for assistance. However, you cannot negotiate with those women who want to continue perpetuating the practice. Just follow the law,” urged the CAS.
She cautioned that some chiefs in other counties had been arrested and others interdicted for complacency in the practice of FGM. She also called on them to be on the lookout for parents taking their daughters across the border in Somalia or in the neighboring counties to undergo FGM. “As chiefs you know his/her location and the residents in the location. No chief who cannot know those who have moved across the border for FGM. Cross border FGM is also illegal and perpetrators must be prosecuted if they come back,” added the CAS.
Board Chairperson Ms. Agenes Pareyio reinforced her message and told the chiefs not to feign ignorance of the law or protect the cutters through tokenism, adding that the law must meet its purpose.
Ms. Pareyio urged the chiefs to encourage their community members to educate girls to completion and not cutting and marrying them early. “We cannot only be giving birth to girls, cutting them and marrying them off. How can the community develop without the input of women? Let girls continue with education. Education is power. You give a woman education and you will have empowered her,” stated Ms. Pareyio.
Ijara MP Hon. Sophia Noor Abdi asserted that the Islamic religion does not advocate for FGM and challenged those practicing it under the pretext of religious obligation to cease. “Islam does not condone FGM. If Prophet Mohammed did not cut any of her daughters. Who are we to do so?” she posed.
“A girl is born complete. But our culture wants to change God’s creation which is not right. God is perfect and created everyone in perfect shape. As the representatives of the President and the government at the location level you should undertake your duty,” added Hon. Sophia.
UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Ademola Olajide pledged the support of UNFPA to continue supporting communities towards ending FGM in Kenya. He requested the administrators to cooperate to ensure women and girls within their authority are protected from harmful practices.
“FGM is a violation of human rights and hinders the capacity of every young girl and woman to contribute optimally to human development. The vision of the President must be delivered upon. It will need the full cooperation and active engagement of every single one of you,” said Dr. Ademola.