National Government Administrators in Embu County were put on the spot for escalating cases of FGM amid the Covid-19 pandemic as schools remained shut. Public Service and Gender CAS Hon. Rachel Shebesh cautioned the chiefs that they risked interdiction and subsequent prosecution for abetting the practice.
Speaking to the chiefs and their assistants at the Kenya School of Government in Embu town at a meeting to cascade the Presidential Directive to end FGM by 2022, the CAS asked the local administrators to roll up their sleeves and crackdown on perpetrators using the prolonged schools’ closure as a perfect opportunity to cut girls.
The CAS was concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic had posed a great danger to girls as it had created ample time for perpetrators to cut them and marry them off in exchange for quick income due to the harsh economic conditions presented by the pandemic.
Hon. Shebesh cautioned the administrators against tolerating the practice by negotiating with offenders. She noted that there was an upsurge of FGM cases in the county after the prolonged school closure which she termed as a double tragedy to girls in the county and the country. She called on the chiefs to protect women and girls from the cut, early marriages, and teenage pregnancies.
“We are against negotiating with offenders through ‘Kangaroo courts’ under the trees or any other place. We cannot allow you to pardon the offenders simply because they have offered a goat. The cut on the girls leaves them with permanent scars that will affect their health and wellbeing as women,” she cautioned.
She said also warned medical practitioners practicing the female cut that they risked prosecution and revocation of their practicing licenses as well as the permanent closure of their clinics. She said the government had made strides in creating awareness against the vice but the medical officers were derailing their efforts.
“The health workers have been secretly carrying on the practice in public and private hospitals in cahoots with parents of the girls and thus contributing to the delay in ending the vice,” she warned.
The Chairperson stated the prevalence of FGM in the county was 30% and that the government was keen on bringing the numbers down to zero. She regretted that the Covid-19 pandemic had derailed the progress made but warned the schools’ closure should not be used as a season to cut girls for marriage.
“As the schools remain closed, girls are being cut and married off due to the idleness in the community. It is unfortunate that when society has nothing else to do, they play around with girls. We will collaborate with the County Commissioners and the national governments to eradicate this oppressive and outlawed practice,” Ms. Pareiyo stated.
The County Commissioner Mr. Abdullahi Galgalo expressed optimism that the vice would be rooted out in Embu County completely. He warned the chiefs that the only reason they were in administration uniform is that they have a duty to uphold the lawfully.
“Every one of you knows your area too well. You have been informed of the President’s expectations. It is now up to us to root the vice in Embu County,” said Mr. Galgalo.