Domtila Chesang,I_Rep Foundation director addressing the residents of Mosop,Lomut Ward
‘I am Responsible’ (I_Rep) with support from The Five Foundation embarked on a 3-Day EndFGM sensitization Campaign at Chemutlokotyo in Central Pokot Sub County. Chemutlokotyo is a village within Mosop location, Lomut Ward which can only be accessed by motorcycles. Characterized by a rocky, tough and hilly terrain, it took the team approximately two hours to get to the village.At one point the team had to trek because of the poor road networks.
The organization conducted a number of activities among them community dialogues on FGM. More than 150 girls, women and men representing different villages attended the forum. The main aim of this public baraza was to deconstruct this social norm and sensitize the community on the negative implications of FGM and other harmful cultural practices. This is a process that requires involvement of the people who are directly affected through a community friendly approach. The societal pressure to fit in, Stigmatization, condemnation
and harassment of those who defy the cultural practice is the key reason why young girls and even married women undergo FGM.
Sheila Chenangat, for example is a newly married young woman who completed her secondary education but her dream to join college may be thwarted should she not undergo the cut as required by her in-laws. She says women like her who have refused to undergo FGM are not allowed to freely conduct their daily activities and home chores such as cooking and milking of cows. She has to make a tough decision if she has to go to college. Urgent intervention is needed in her case and other women in her position lest they become the next victims.
It is encouraging to note that the local administration, religious leaders, men and women from the village have joined I_REP foundation in advocating and protecting the rights of girls in the community. They have called upon the residents to shun away from this barbaric and dehumanizing cultural practice. I_Rep has been able to support a local self-help group called RIKAT that was formed as a result of the motivation and encouragement from I_Rep Foundation numerous calls to the village.
The self help group is determined to sensitize the community on the abandonment of FGM and the empowerment of young girls in the village and beyond. I_Rep went ahead to conduct a one day knowledge sharing and empowerment training with the members of this self help group. Working in collaboration with RIKAT, I_Rep believes that it will be able to protect
hundreds of girls from undergoing the harmful practices, as well as support and
empower the girl-child in the community.
I_Rep recognizes that access to safe and hygienic menstrual products is a right. It strives to ensure that girls in the local communities who cannot afford the products receives them. The organization through fundraisings and donations from friends and partners distributes these products during its campaign visits in the villages.
This increases girls self esteem and allows them to go about their daily lives with ease. Therefore, it was prudent that the organization does not only talk about FGM but other challenges that girls face in the community including menstrual health. By incorporating distribution of sanitary towels during its campaign the organization is able to reach out to more girls and women in the community and build their confidence. On this visit the organization was able to distribute sanitary towels to over 150 girls and women in the village through the #BuyApadCampaign that had previously been organized.
This activity resulted to the protection of approximately over 1000 girls from FGM in Chemutlokotyo. RIKAT self group,comprising of the local administration,village elites,religious leaders, survivors and role models gave assurances to ensure that no more girl would be cut in their immediate village. Guided by the laws,rules and regulations,they said stern measures will be taken against those who will perpetuate FGM and they would be on high alert to monitor and report such cases should they happen. On the first day, 154 girls who have not undergone FGM attended a one day ENDFGM sensitization campaign and vowed that they would not accept to be subjected to the act.
I_Rep endeavours to continue educating, encouraging community dialogues, engaging in consensus-building and helping mobilize communities to collectively and publicly abandon the practice with follow- up measures to ensure lasting changes. There has been a deep concern and reports regarding the persistence and resurgence of FGM majorly contributed by Covid_19 and the prolonged school closure in the community, indicating the need to strengthen the campaigns and enhance commitments for total abandonment of FGM. In the light of Covid-19 pandemic, I_Rep estimates that a number of girls are at a very high risk of undergoing FGM and Child marriages considering the fact that the festival season, November/December, is fast approaching. This is normally the peak season for FGM practice. I-Rep with the right support hopes and wishes to beef up its campaign efforts to avert this situation.