Women are the perpetrators of FGM, according to a Pokot elder.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) and early forced marriages in West Pokot County may be on the decline as a result of a move by community elders to engage residents in dialogue.
More than 60 Pokot elders reaffirmed their commitment to ending FGM and early marriages at a recent meeting in Kapenguria.
This comes on the heels of a February 2021 declaration by elders and government officials from Kenya and Uganda at Alale along the Kenya-Uganda border to eradicate FGM in the region.
Elders are now leading the charge against the retrogressive practice, launching a number of initiatives to put an end to it.
Bernadette Loloju, Chief Executive Officer of the Anti-FGM Board, who engaged the elders, men and women, in anti-FGM discussions, noted that the elders have great influence over community issues, which is useful in influencing the desired need to end the practice.
"They have agreed to engage in community dialogue with men, women, and youth." "We collaborate with elders because they are the custodians and gatekeepers of culture," she said.
She explained that, while there is an anti-FGM law, the best way to combat the vice for the time being is through dialogue.
She explained that, while there is an anti-FGM law in place, the best way to combat the vice for the time being is through dialogue.
"FGM is caused by early forced marriages in which young boys seek circumcised girls." "We need to talk to the young men in order to put a stop to this barbaric behavior," she said.
Morans even steal cattle to pay dowry, she observed.
"We will work with the county government, the county commissioner's office, and other stakeholders to put an end to the vices," she said.
FGM across borders
She stated that many young girls drop out of school due to early pregnancies, and that cross-border FGM is also on the rise in the region.
"Our CS Prof Kobia signed a work plan to end FGM along borders with Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia," she said.
Ms Loloju observed that the long school holidays between November and January cause many girls to go for the cut and then marry off.
John Muok, chairperson of the Pokot Council of Elders, confirmed that women are the perpetrators of FGM.
"Women incite and instill fear in young girls, telling them that if they are not cut, they will not marry," he added.
He stated that the community dialogues are intended to educate residents about the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of FGM, early marriage, and childrearing.
Pregnancy too soon
"Both FGM and marriage deprive girls of their rights and childhood, as well as any chance of a prosperous future." It frequently means the end of a girl's formal education and exposes her to health risks associated with early pregnancy, physical and sexual violence, and an increased risk of poverty," he said.
He stated that FGM cases have decreased slightly since the elders joined the campaign.
"We need a sense of collective responsibility and funds to spread around to sensitize the community against the vice," Mr Muok said.
Elders must end FGM, according to the former paramount chief, through frequent campaigns in FGM-prone areas.
"Within a few years, we will make this region a zero FGM zone," he said.
FGM is common.
Selina Chepkeker, an anti-FGM ambassador, offered to educate young women in FGM hotspots.
"Many girls who have refused FGM have gone on to become powerful leaders." "We've also sensitized warriors," she added, urging parents to send their children to school.
She urged President William Ruto to support elders in their efforts to raise awareness about the region's vices.
The prevalence of FGM in the country is 21%. However, in counties where FGM is practiced, the prevalence remains high.
According to a recent Unicef study, the prevalence of FGM in West Pokot is 74%.