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Involve men in the fight against FGM, says Governor’s wife

07 December 2015, 14:47 Geoffrey Kimagut

Narok - Narok County Governor's wife, Sarah Tunai has said the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages will only succeed if men are brought on board.

Tunai said men are usually the ones who make decision on whether to circumcise or marry off young girls.

She was speaking during the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) graduation of 138 girls and 69 boys at St Mary Secondary School.

Tunai said the two practices are still rife in the County because men still believe that they must marry circumcised women.

Read Also: Western girls holiday in Kenya to undergo FGM in secret

“There is need for a change of tact in the fight against these two retrogressive cultural practices. More gains would have been realized had menfolk been brought on board because their acceptance to marry circumcised girls is an endorsement of the vices,” said Tunai.

She said ending all forms of FGM is crucial to the success of Millennium Development Goals especially those related to gender, universal primary education, maternal health, child mortality and HIV/Aids.

“Men have always seen the fight against FGM as a woman’s issue yet they sneer and ridicule those who get married to uncircumcised girls. We must endevour to change this mindset among the men,” she said.

The governor’s wife reiterated that societies that still approve of these practices treat unfairly their women and girls.

“We hope our men will accept to be part of this fight because there is no reason for young girls to continue suffering from Female Genital Mutilation,” said the first lady.

Narok County World Vision Manager, Bernadette Lolochu said this is the second year they are bringing the boys for one week training so as to be positive influence in the families, villages and schools.

Read Also: 9.3 million schoolgirls risk getting the cut

“These are the people who will stand up for their sisters, friends and school mates should anyone attempt to force them undergo the cut,” said Lolochu.

Lolochu said FGM as a manifestation of gender inequality is deeply entrenched in social, economic and political structures.

“We have trained them on the need to transit to adulthood without undergoing the cut. We prepare them to handle issues such as personal hygiene, adolescence, drug abuse and effective communication,” said Lolochu.

On his part, Narok Children’s Officer Julius Ngoko said cases of sexual violence and abuse among children in Narok County are so rampant that at least four cases are reported every week.

Ngoko said most of the cases reported are perpetuated by guardians and relatives with several others going unreported.

“Sexual abuse comes in some many ways that also include Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced early marriages which are detrimental to the education of the girl child,” said Ngoko.

The officer said all forms of early marriages translate to sexual abuse because they involve minors, some of whom are as young as 10 years.

“The community’s attitude towards the girl child contributes majorly to these cases because they still view the girl child as a source of wealth. This explains why we have high rates of drop out among girls in upper classes in primary schools,” said Ngoko.

The children officer said because of the strict move by his office and other stakeholders to apprehend those marrying off young girls, some parents have resorted to collude with would-be suitors to make the girl pregnant.

“This sort of arrangement is an attempt to justify the early marriage. Luckily, we are beating this one because we still rescue child-mothers and take them back to school,” said Ngoko.

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