BY EMMANUEL MWITA
The Kuria community in Migori County has one of the highest rates of prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya which has affected four out of every five women in the community.
Last year about 3000 girls underwent the cut, and the next circumcision season is upon us. This year two of the clans in the community are planning to conduct the cut, putting at risk the lives of many adolescent girls in the community.
State and non-state actors have put in place a lot of effort to eradicate the vice in the community in terms of information campaigns and policy changes. However, practical challenges prevail, including lack of permanent and operational rescue and safe centers in the region to provide safe haven for girls and women running away from the cut.
In previous circumcision seasons, vulnerable girls have sought refuge in churches, schools or camps organized by Community Based Organizations working in the region. Some girls are forced to hide at their relatives’ place in other counties or neighboring Tanzania.
This has slowed down the efforts to end FGM in the region as it hinders having a coordinated rescue for vulnerable girls. This has also exposed girls to other forms of gender based violence as they seek help.
The camps organized also require a lot of resources which are also limited. This leaves the girls vulnerable as they have to leave the camp when there are no resources. This camps also have low capacity and cannot admit all the girls at risk of FGM.
Migori County desperately needs enough rescue centers due to the high rates of reported cases of sexual gender based violence. This has however not been achieved due to lack of budgetary allocations for this purpose, including the recent Migori county supplementary budget for FY 2021/2022.
This is despite the numerous outcries and calls from the public to have such facilities put up and operationalized.
To accelerate the efforts to end female genital mutilation, the county government of Migori should prioritize and allocate funds for construction and operationalization of adequate rescue and safe places for girls and women at risk of any form of violence.
The government should also support the various actors providing rescue camps especially during the mass cutting season in Kuria.
This will support timely response and rescue of vulnerable girls and women and help in evidence preservation for the victims and witnesses.
It will also go a long way to achieving the president’s commitment to achieving zero FGM and zero GBV in the country.
Mr. Mwita is a Migori-based youth advocate at the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA Kenya)