Countering FGM in West Pokot county

Labour PS Dr. Khadijah Kassachoon speaking about FGM, urged parents to shun outdated practices and embrace girl child education
Labour PS Dr. Khadijah Kassachoon urged parents to shun outdated practices and embrace girl child education as the fight against FGM goes on

Cases of Female Genital Mutilation in the country have drastically dropped by 6% from 2009 up to now. The prevalence rate used to be 27% and now it stands at 21%. The FGM Board chairperson in Kenya Linah Chebii Kilimo talked about a viable implementation of the anti-FGM law, and also highlighted the new trends that are emerging, one being where people in accessible places opt to perform the act in secret hideouts so that they aren’t found.

Kilimo was speaking at St. Elizabeth Girls rescue Center in West Pokot county during the graduation of one hundred girls who rejected the retrogressive practices after being educated on various issues about FGM.

The girls, who hail from counties affected by the retrogressive practices, ran away from the maligned cut in the respective communities. They finished their secondary education and    underwent a six months mentorship program sponsored by World Vision and Microsoft Company, with each specialising on her talents.

Among the issues tackled included the anti-FGM issue, hairdressing, plaiting, agriculture, ICT skills, life skills for the girl child, spiritual nourishment and cookery and productivity programs. These were aimed at shifting their mindsets and focus away from the longtime prescribed tradition of girl circumcision that has been rampant in the entire North Rift region.

World Vision Associate Director for Education and Protection Mary Mugo expressed optimism that the program was yielding fruits because girls have benefited .

She said the organisation is working in West Pokot and 55 other Counties and 59 regions to ensure girls are rescued from forced marriage and FGM. She said the girls received vital teachings and they were empowered with skills while being encouraged to give back to the society.

Mugo observed that the organisation ensures that girls abandon cultural practices that are harmful by gradually integrating community members, citing that the focus is to reach 2.6 million children by 2020.

The PS in the Ministry of Labour Khadijah Kassachoon urged parents in the area to focus on education, urging girls to delay their marriage plans, and also urged them to make sure they aren’t married off.

Kassochoon urged parents in the area to support girl child education, empower girls and shun outdated practices. She said that 242 girls from Murups Center who have not undergone the cut exited and joined higher learning institutions and forty have no place to call home.

According to the girls, they will now be able to pursue higher level education after their parents were also sensitized and urged to boycott the practice. One girl, Cherop, said that after Form Four, her parents started looking for men to marry her off. She said they will apply the skills at home and help other girls in the community.