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Girls at risk of FGM, early marriage, following school closure



By Judith Gicobi

Some girls have been vulnerable to female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage as a result of the school closures last month.

In some sections of the country, there have already been instances of females being exposed to the cut and involuntarily married off.

Domtila Chesang, the founder of the I-Am Responsible Foundation, a West Pokot-based organization dedicated to ending female genital mutilation and child marriages, told a local newspaper that incidents had grown in the area since schools closed.

Ms. Chesang stated that her organization is now dealing with four cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) and a comparable number of cases of girls who have been married off.

“FGM is going on in the area but silently. The major root cause is peer pressure among parents and the girls themselves,” stated Ms. Chesang.

She went on to say that child marriage is common and generally unrecorded. She gave the example of a girl in their safe house who was tormented by a group of men for attempting to flee a forced marriage.

“Cases of child marriage are very rampant here and very little campaign is happening to end the menace. Many cases are mostly violent because of resistance from the minors, but the community believes that such children should be beaten up,” she said.

According to the anti-FGM activist, her organization is collaborating with the police to rescue the victims and assist them in obtaining medical care and other fundamental necessities.

They are also keeping an eye on the situation on the ground through the already-established community monitoring organizations. In conjunction with ongoing FGM activities in the area, she stated one circumciser, three individuals, and two girls have been apprehended.

In Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri County, five women and two men were recently charged with aiding FGM. After being detained on Monday, the accused appeared in a Nyeri court before resident magistrate Damacline Bosibori Nyakundi.

They were ordered to be held at Mukurwe-ini Police Station till their bail application was decided.

Police saved eight young girls from the residence of a suspect who had allegedly eluded the police dragnet. Six of the eight are alleged to have had their hair shaved.

The reintroduction of female genital mutilation (FGM) in central Kenya has sparked outrage, with women, girls, and gender activists expressing concern.