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State launches new bid to end FGM menace by 2022

KAMAU MAICHUHIEBy KAMAU MAICHUHIE
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In a bid to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country by 2022, the government has changed tack in the fight against the age-old outlawed cultural practice.

Through the National Policy on Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation 2019, launched last month, the government has roped those subjected to and at risk of FGM, religious leaders, traditional justice systems in FGM-practicing communities and other stakeholders into anti-FGM advocacy.

In the past, chiefs and their assistants as well as the police have been spearheading the fight against FGM.

During the launch of the national policy by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi, the government invited community and religious leaders from across the country. These included opinion leaders drawn from 22 counties that are the most affected by FGM.

DECLARATION

Josephat Murangiri, the secretary-general of Njuri Ncheke in Meru, who read the elders’ declaration, said they were committed to seeing the vice completely eradicated in the next three years.

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“We appreciate the government’s efforts to end FGM through creating and implementing progressive policies, legislative frameworks and programmes,” said Mr Murangiri.

The elders committed to work with both the national and county governments and other stakeholders in creating awareness within their communities.

President Uhuru Kenyatta described the rite as an archaic cultural practice that assaults the well-being of individuals and society, and pitched for its complete eradication.

RETROGRESSIVE PRACTICE

“FGM is a retrogressive practice whose continued existence in our country in actual fact assaults our individual and national consciousness. The practice is inimical to our shared fundamental values as enshrined in our very own Constitution that we as Kenyans passed,” the President said.

Dr Ademola Olajide, the county representative of the United Nations Population Fund, termed FGM one of the top violations of the rights of women and girls.

Dr Olajide added that FGM has serious economic and health consequences on the victims. He commended the President for playing a leading role in the fight against the practice and assured him of the organisation’s full support.

Speaking during the launch, Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said the policy is anchored on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number five of gender equality.

PROTECTING THE GIRL CHILD

She added that the new policy is necessitated by the need to address emerging trends that have contributed to the slow decline in the practice. She said her ministry, through the Anti-FGM Board, would provide leadership in the implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the policy.

Prof Kobia indicated two weeks ago that chiefs and their assistants from the 22 counties where FGM is most prevalent will play a leading role in the fight against the menace.

“Chiefs and their assistants have what it takes to know and protect the girl child. Government officers have no option and those clinging onto the outdated practice have no business being government officers.” she said.

Prof Kobia, who was accompanied by the Anti-FGM Board members, said the ministry will accelerate the fight against the practice to ensure it is eradicated by 2022 as directed by the President on November 9.