More than 60% of female genital mutilation (FGM) cases in West Pokot County are unreported with young girls denied their right to education by being forced into early marriages according to recent statistics.
The retrogressive practice is now out of control during this period when schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the survey conducted over the last six months by the Kapenguria Theatre Community based organization-that has stepped up the fight against the vice by using a new approach of engaging peers through theatre and song performances-the lack of evidence is hampering the prosecution of FGM cases.
Kapenguria Theatre Group Chairman Mr. Francis Soprin said that Female Genital Mutilation prevalence rate in the County now stands at 74%.
He named areas where the cases are rampant, which include Kongelai, Alale, Tapach, Masol, Cheputel, Kacheliba, Chesegon, Kameneu, Lomut, Masol, Kongelai, Masol, Muino, Kapsolion Takaywa, Nyangaita, Nyarkulian, Sondany and Koporo.
Soprin cited that the cases are rampant in the County due to a high illiteracy level and ignorance among girls and women about their rights, adding that retrogressive cultural practices have jeopardized efforts to deal with FGM cases in the region.
“Many FGM cases are not reported by chiefs fearing action being taken upon him,” he said.
He asked the government to be proactive and curb the vices adding that they normally happen in hard to reach areas.
“We want the government and other stakeholders to join hands in dealing with the cases,” he said.
Soprin asked the Judiciary to speed up legal processes and FGM cases, noting that it takes long before the cases are determined.
He said most of the FGM cases take place in remote areas and residents find it difficult to seek legal assistance in Kapenguria town which is far away.
“These cases take place in remote areas and to access justice is difficult since the courts are located over 300 kilometers in Kapenguria town,” he said.
He further asked the judiciary to set up mobile courts in remote areas to enable women and girls whose rights have been violated seek justice.
“The legal process is too long and expensive. Most people get tired and disengaged along the way, leading to termination of the cases,” he said.
Mr. Peter Wafula, the Secretary General of the Organization, said most of perpetrators of FGM are never prosecuted, a situation that has greatly affected the fight against the vice in the region.