Thousands of girls in West Pokot are at risk of being subjected to retrogressive practices which include forced marriages, female genital mutilation and teenage pregnancies during this festive season.
Local organizations working in the County have raised concern over the rise of repugnant practices with many girls targeted, subsequently leading to school dropouts. Early pregnancies in the County stand at 29%, more than the national figure of 18%.
Areas, where the cases are rampant in the County are Kongelai, Alale, Tapach, Masol, Cheputel, Kacheliba, Masol, Muino, Kapsolion, Takaywa, Nyangaita, Nyarkulian, Sondany and Koporo and North Pokot Sub County areas.
This has prompted an organization to start sensitizing the young girls and boys by offering life skills training for them to escape the vices.
Speaking during the training of 118 teenagers from standard six to form three at Kodich, World Vision Project officer for Girl Child Promotion Project in the County Ms Teresa Cheptoo said female Genital Mutilation and early pregnancies cases are high in the County.
Cheptoo pointed out that the vices have adversely affected education in the County since there is a low transition of learners from primary to secondary schools.
She said many cases have been reported in the County because of a lack of information, illiteracy, ignorance, poor infrastructure and lack of funds to sustain anti-FGM campaigns.
Cheptoo said girls in the Pokot community are faced with many challenges and called on parents in the area to invest in their children’s education.
Pokot Women Empowerment Organization (POWEO) Director Mrs. Leah Psiya Chebet said that there is a need to incorporate young men and boys in the fight against the vices as they are the main perpetrators.
County Child Protection Services officer Mr. Patrick Mugun said the challenge is witnesses who refuse to testify in courts. Mugun said that the County has an increasing number of orphans.
He appealed on parents to take care of children in the area and warned the FGM, rape, defilement, forced marriages perpetrators that they’ll face the law, adding that they are sensitizing girls, “We are talking to girls so to alert them so they don’t get abused,” he said.