KISII, Kenya Oct 10 – More than 200 girls who underwent Alternative Rites of Passage training have graduated in Kisii County with calls now to have men more involved in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The girls graduated after a week of a mentorship programme organised by Non-Governmental Organizations International Solidarity Foundation (ISF), CECOME and Manga Heart.
Officials said the girls were trained on the effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sexual reproductive health, drug abuse and leadership skills by experts from various organizations.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Community Mobilization and Empowerment Director Stella Achoki said the girls were taught about reproductive health, child rights, harmful and good cultural practices.
“We have a huge challenge here because the practice is also done by medics, particularly in private hospitals,” she says. She it is time men got actively involved in fighting the vice for the benefit of the society.
While the practice was mainly carried out in the community as a cultural ceremony, families have now changed tactics and involved medics in private hospitals. Others do it in homes with no huge ceremonies.
To end the vice, Achoki said there is need for authorities to revoke the licenses of doctors and clinics performing the rite on girls.
She said there is need for the circumcisers to engage in other productive businesses.
Kisii County commander Francis Kooli said that culprits who will be found practicing it, will face the law.
“We will not relent to whoever will be caught practicing it,” he said.
Kooli states that men can foster positive beliefs and attitudes and raise awareness on the impact of female genital mutilation to the health of women and girls, which can promote behaviour change in men and boys through the identification and promotion of positive notions of masculinities.
“When we force children to undergo FGM, we violate their rights, “he said.
Kisii County Executive Member Ednah Kangwana said that the community is slowly embracing Alternative Rite of Passage for girls, a ceremony that replaces the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and girl’s transition into womanhood without being circumcised.
“Community dialogue involving parents and boys as key stakeholders will also play a big role in ending the outlawed cultural practice,” she said.
Kiogoro Assistant County Commissioner Peter Nyandati said that the sensitization on FGM is in line with the government declaration to end FGM by 2022.