Kajiado leaders made history during this year’s International Day of the African Child when they called for an end to FGM among their communities, reports Kurgat Marindany.
It was also the first time that elected governor and MPs attended the celebration and told their people to stop circumcising their girls.
No elected leaders before could urge the Maasai to shun FGM because that could have cost them votes during elections.
This year’s celebration took place in the Enkinyi area of Kajiado Central, where the chief guest on Tuesday was Margaret Kobia, CS Public Service and Gender.
Kobia was in the company of Environment CS, Keriako Tobiko, MPs Peris Tobiko, Memusi Kanchori, Joseph Manje, and Governor Joseph Lenku and his deputy Martin Moshisho.
Other guests included Maendeleo ya Wanawake chair, Rahab Muiu, CAS Rachael Shebesh, Chair FGM Board Pareyio, and Ademola Olajide, UNFPA Country Representative.
The event was also attended by former girls’ circumcisers, who quit the practice and formed a women dairy group.
CS Tobiko Wonders
CS Tobiko wondered loudly why humans, and especially his people (Kajiado Maasai) are concerned with what God created in girls and women.
“What business have in trying to eliminate by cutting what God placed there. Are you cleverer than God who created women to the effect that you must see mistakes in His creation?” asked the CS.
Memusi called on Maasai men to reject all the circumcised girls and marry the “complete” ones.
“We should not be talking about FGM in this century. We should be engaging ourselves on matters of education and other developments instead of singing about the need to stop FGM,” said Memusi.
He said children from the villages are not getting access to computers and therefore are not accessing e-learning like their counterparts in towns.
“I have a motion in parliament that is aimed at stopping e-learning at homes because the exercise is discriminative and not benefitting all children,” said Memusi.
Manje said circumcising girls depicts backwardness in this century, adding that the practice do not add any value to those subjected to the practice.
MP Tobiko told Kajiado Maasai to reject FGM in its totality and allow girls to access education.
She called on the Maasai people to respect women and give them all the support they require.
Lenku said Kajiado is the first county to adopt a policy on FGM and that a bill on children’s rights is pending the county assembly.
Kobia in her speech said this year’s theme: “Access to Child-friendly Justice Systems in Africa” is in line with the aspirations of the African Union.
“It inspires us to a sober reflection and action towards addressing the many challenges that children in Africa face daily,” she said.
She said the African Charter on the Rights of the Child provides for the protection of the African child against harmful social and cultural practices, child abuse and torture while securing the right of every child to education
The CS said the boy and girl child in Kenya face many challenges that require everyone’s attention.
In the face of the current challenge of Covid-19, interventions are all the more urgent, she said.
The guest of honour said in the face of the current COVID-19 situation in Kenya, the National gender-based violence helpline 1195 has registered an increase in GBV cases from 86 in February to 115 cases in March, 461 cases in April and 753 cases in May 2020.
The prevalence of GBV, she said, shot up by 46 per cent between February and May 2020.
National prevalence rate on FGM, the CS said, stood at 21per cent in 2014 compared to 27 per cent in 2008/9; and 32 per cent in 2003.
“Despite the steady decline nationally, FGM prevalence remains high amongst some communities such as Somali 94 per cent, Samburu 86 per cent, Kisii 84 per cent and Maasai at 78 per cent,” she said.
The minister said the rate of Female Genital Mutilation in Kajiado Central Sub-County is 51 per cent (UNICEF 2017).
On child marriage, Kobia said 3 per cent of Kenyan girls are married off before their 18th birthday and 4 per cent are married before the age of 15 years.
“Sadly, Kenya has the 20th highest absolute number of child brides in the world at 527,000 per year. The rate of Child Marriage in Kajiado Central Sub County stands at 28 per cent,” she said.
The CS handed over Sh11 million for women groups in Kajiado.