Girls denounce FGM and call for economic support for women who spearhead the vice since they have no other income-generating activity
By Albert Lemomo
At least 471 girls from Kajiado County have been ushered into womanhood after undergoing a rigorous weeklong alternative rite of passage at the Amboseli Primary School in Kajiado South Sub–County.
The alternative rite is held to protect girls, who remain in danger of undergoing female genital mutilation and thereafter being offered as wives to older men.
Speaking during their graduation ceremony, the girls called for education and economic support for women who spearhead the vice. “We are always at a risk, because these women who mutilate us do not have any information on the negative effects of the practice. They also do not know any other income–generating activity. It is about time our mothers were taught alternative ways of making money,” said Jane Shilluni, one of the graduands.
According to the girls, the alternative rite of passage is more inspiring and helpful to their growth as they gain the knowledge to understand themselves better. “This is an important exercise because as children, we have been taught on certain specifics of how to look after ourselves. We have been trained about protecting ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases as well as keeping ourselves pure and focused on education, so as to become better individuals in future. No girl should have to live in fear of the cut,” said Abigail Lakaram, 13.
Miriam Parit 14, who is also an alternative rite champion, has vowed to safeguard the lives of many girls once she gets older, as she has understood the painful journey and complications that lie ahead for people who have undergone the cut. “It was lucky for me that this programme came at this point. I had undergone tooth removal, my face had been tattooed, and the only thing remaining was for me to undergo the cut. Somehow, the programme came and I chose to attend, whereby I have learnt the effects of female genital mutilation and I will do everything possible to stop girls from undergoing such ordeals.”
Kajiado County AMREF Project Manager Ndege Lugayo has assured the women who perform the illegal practice that they shall be trained on alternative ways of earning a livelihood. “As AMREF, we have already identified these women and in a few days’ time we are going to call you for a meeting to deliberate on what kind of businesses or ventures are suitable. We will offer you the training and all other required support, because the safety of our children belongs to all of us.”
Lugayo vowed that AMREF will continue to safeguard the interests of the children until the time the vice will be eradicated. “We are dedicated to protect our girls as well as educate the community on the importance of allowing all children to access education. We are committed to ensure that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to eradicate FGM by 2022 is achieved.”
Kajiado County Director for Gender and Social Services Eve Merin lauded the girls for their bravery in coming out to denounce the vice. “As the county government, we are going to offer unwavering support to these champions, whereby we shall make sure that they become ambassadors and role models in our society, to shun the vice and advise the community on the importance of educating girls. We will be launching the anti–FGM policy in Mosiro — a guideline that will enable us to fight this vice and completely eradicate it from our community.”
Kajiado County has been battling the FGM scourge for years, with the government strengthening its efforts by creating an enabling environment for the children by building boarding schools and rescue centres, as well as taking punitive measures against perpetrators.