FGM Monthly Article – January

In Summary Here, the local communities have refused to abandon the archaic cultural practices. They withdraw their daughters from school, subjecting them to female circumcision and marrying them off to get dowry. Sensitization against the vice is being conducted in multi-national tea estates in the region. At the crack of dawn, Doreen (not her real name) wakes up, prepares breakfast for her family, dashes to the bathroom to shower before dressing up ready to start her journey to a day secondary school some two kilometers away. The teenage wife leaves her husband, a shopkeeper, at home as she braves the Monday morning chill, joining a file of other students trekking to school in Chebunyo, Chepalungu Constituency, in Bomet County. Apart from her husband, parents, fellow students and teachers who are in the know, there is nothing to betray the fact that she is no ordinary Form Two student.   CIRCUMVENT LAW Hardly 16 years of age, she is one of the teenagers who have been married off, then enrolled in school in a bid to beat the law protecting children from early marriage and sexual exploitation. It is a similar case for a 15-year-old Jackeline (not her real name) who underwent circumcision in November last year and was married off in December to a boda-boda rider in Narok. During the day, these girls are students while, in the evening and on weekends, they play their roles as wives in a new trend that has crept into parts of the South Rift counties of Kericho, Bomet, and Narok.   ARCHAIC PRACTICES Here, the local communities have failed to abandon the archaic cultural practices of withdrawing their daughters from school, subjecting them to female circumcision, and marrying them off to get bride price. “Due to the pressure the administration and various government agencies have placed on the society with the implementation of the Children’s Act, the offenders have devised new methods to circumvent the law, which includes marrying off young girls and enrolling them in school,” said Bomet County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding. “We have arrested several of the offenders after getting intelligence reports of the marriages. Our position is that both parents of the newly-married girls, along with the husbands of the teenagers, must be arrested and charged,” he said.   CRACKDOWN ON OFFENDERS He said chiefs and their assistants had been directed to closely work with education officers, teachers, police,...

Read More

FGM Monthly Article – December

A recent decision by the First Lady of Ekiti State, Mrs. Bisi Fayemi, to end female genital mutilation is something to cheer.  In Nigeria, it is assumed that amnesty is extended only to those involved in armed conflict. That is far from the truth. The Ekiti First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, recently extended amnesty to local perpetrators of female genital mutilation (FGM).  A critical look at the activities of Ekiti’s first lady since her husband, Dr. Kayode Fayemi returned to office indicate her commitment to stop social angst and cultural barriers against women.  Recently, the first lady approached the Ekiti State House of Assembly, seeking an amendment to the Ekiti State Gender-Based Violence Prohibition Law, 2012. The kernel of the amendment was to ensure stringent capital punishments for perpetrators of rape and other social scourges against women. Offenders were hitherto slammed with five years imprisonment, but with this amendment, the penalty is now life jail. Part of the amendments being desperately sought included, medical castration of perpetrators, which pundits believed would stem the tide and tighten noose on randy old and young men with unbridled libido for sex.  Going by statistics released by internationally reputed organizations like the World Health Organization and United Nations Children Endowment Fund, Ekiti is second in ranking in FGM practice in Nigeria. This startling revelation actually spurred Mrs. Fayemi to pick up the gauntlet against the perpetrators, whilst the diplomacy of amnesty seems to be her best bet in achieving zero practice of the outdated system in this context.  It was, however, baffling that the locals, who were found to be strong-willed, fanatical and unrepentant with tradition, were willingly surrendering their instruments across all the 16 local government headquarters, where Mrs. Fayemi interacted with women and also empowered them. The arms surrendering scheme was done in Aramoko, Ado, Ikole, Omuo, Ikere and other major headquarters of the 16 local government councils.  In a rare show of love wrapped in diplomacy, the first lady assured the repentant FGM practitioners that the state government was prepared to empower those, who genuinely stop female genital mutilation, for the sake of womanhood. This initiative by Mrs. Fayemi could be predicated on the fact that some of the practitioners derived their means of livelihood from circumcision of male and female children and that there was a need to create alternative and more credible sources of income as a replacement. ...

Read More

FGM Monthly Article – November

Photo: PSCU/The Nation President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses delegates during the official opening ceremony of ICPD 25 in Nairobi.   November 12, 2019 Kenya Pledges to End FGM By 2022 – Ahead of Global Target By Nita Bhalla Nairobi — Kenya’s president on Tuesday promised to end female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2022, a goal women’s rights campaigners said was unrealistic due to insecurity and high prevalence rates in some parts of the East African nation. One in five women and girls aged between 15 and 49 in Kenya have undergone FGM, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia and can cause a host of serious health problems, according to the United Nations. Kenya outlawed the practice eight years ago, but it continues as some communities believe it is necessary for social acceptance and increases marriage prospects. “Kenya commits to eliminate female genital mutilation by 2022,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told a global conference on sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of a series of commitments made by governments at the event. “In addition, the country will eliminate all forms of gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030 through the strengthening of coordination mechanisms and by addressing cultural norms that propagate these practices,” he added. An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM. The ancient ritual, practiced in at least 27 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East, is usually carried out by traditional cutters, often with unsterilized blades or knives. In some cases, girls can bleed to death or die from infections. It can also cause lifelong painful conditions such as fistula and fatal childbirth complications, says the U.N. Kenya criminalized FGM in 2011 with a minimum punishment of three years imprisonment and a $2,000 fine – the most comprehensive anti-FGM legislation in east Africa. But while the law – coupled with increased awareness of the harmful effects of FGM – has helped reduce prevalence to 20 from 27 percent in 2009, the practice persists in some communities. Northeastern counties such as Mandera and Wajir have prevalence rates of over 90 percent – but anti-FGM campaigners say it has been difficult to work in these areas due to a lack of funds, their remote locations, and insecurity. They said it would be difficult to end the practice within two years – eight years ahead of the 2030...

Read More