38 girls from Samburu and Marsabit Counties have been rescued from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
The girls were freed from undergoing the harmful cultural practices following interventions by an Anti-FGM project dubbed Koote Injena, steered by Amref Health Africa
Samburu County’s Coordinator for Koote Injena, Biyola Ruto, said cooperation from the local administration, chiefs and area council advisory made it possible for the girls to be rescued from harmful cultural practices.
“We appreciate the partnerships that we have with the champions who are our eyes, ears in the communities and are able to facilitate the process,” she said.
Ruto said the project is engaging clan leaders by creating awareness through intergenerational dialogues and by strengthening positive youth development.
Jacinta Lorto, a resident of Wamba is a champion of the project and is now working hard to protect girls in her village from being subjected to FGM.
“We have rescued many girls and we are thanking Koote Injena because they taught us to steer away from harmful cultural practices that are still valued by our community,” she said.
Lorto said she has already been successful in convincing many parents against FGM and they are now listening to what their children have to say.
“I didn’t want to be circumcised, I wanted to learn but my parents wanted to subject me to FGM, I ran to Jacinta for help and she persuasively talked to them about it and I was not circumcised, I went back to school,” a standard eight girl who was rescued from FGM recounted.
FGM and early marriages have affected the social and economic wellbeing of numerous generations of women and girls.
Globally, many campaigns have been mooted to help end these harmful traditions.
However, even amidst efforts to arrest these harmful cultural practices, not all actors share in this vision.
In some FGM practising regions, disparate voices continue to champion the continuation of harmful cultures rather than advancing the human rights of women and girls.
These factions seem to take advantage of emergency situations such as COVID-19 pandemic to perpetuate such harmful practices.
The ongoing pandemic has created the perfect conditions for proponents of FGM and early marriage to carry out their perverted motives.
The closure of schools, a pause by rule of law for institutions and organs alongside an overwhelmed health system including requirements for social distancing has created a conducive condition resulting in the resumption of FGM and early marriage activities.
COVID-19 poses an immediate threat to life, hence demanding immediate attention to curb its spread and manage patients, while at the same time because of it, some proponents take advantage of the diverted attention by authorities to rob of the future of some young girls subjecting them FGM and early marriage.