Eradicating FGM in West Pokot County in Context of Covid-19.
West Pokot County is one of the 22 FGM hotpot Counties in Kenya. The FGM prevalence rate in the county stands at 74% as per the 2014 KDHS survey but it is feared that the rate is expected to rise due to the prevailing situation in the county and the world regarding Covid-19 pandemic which has brought with its fundamental change on how state and non-state actors across the world conduct day-to-day interventions in serving humanity.
With schools closed over COVID-19 pandemic, cases of FGM in in West Pokot have risen by huge numbers in the last three months. Accordingly,the government with other state and non-state actors embarked on an emergency intervention to stop the high incidence of cutting
I Rep foundation in collaboration of a quick- response team from both the national and a county team converged to spearhead a prompt intervention on the rising cases.
The multi agency team did a proposal for a two- week anti-FGM campaign caravan to hard -hit areas of West Pokot County.
A planned stakeholders meeting with county commissioner and the assistant county commissioners was held to discuss the escalating cases of FGM in the county since the closure of schools
The multi-agency team then held a briefing with West Pokot’s county Governor Hon. John K. Lonyangapuo . He assured of his commitment to end the vice .He expressed his concerns on the huge investments in education by his government through bursary allocation to school going girls yet girls drop out of schools due to FGM.
Mapping out activity was done to identify the areas where FGM cases were reported to lead into anti-FGM outreach and sensitization to said areas. The areas identified were Pokot Central & Pokot South sub-counties . in Pokot south sub-counties areas that were affected were: Tapach wards in its village; Kamelei, Kapushen,Karawal, Sarawit, Rosoma, Kaltit,Tarak,Chepkaram. in POkot Central sub-county, the areas that were affected were; Tamkal, Lomut,Annet,Chepkokogh,Marus,Sigor,Chesta,Chesegon,Masol,Mosop,Nyangaita,Kotulpogh.
A two-week Anti-FGM caravan campaign commenced upon its launch. The caravan team included; AntiFGM Board,World Vision, Action Aid,County Government,office of the County Commissioner.
The entire caravan entailed sensitization, advocacy and arrests of culprits.
In Pokot south, it was reported that over 300 girls were cut, 2 cutters were arraigned to court, 3 girls were taken to Child Protection Unit (CPU) in Kapenguria,3 chiefs were interdicted for aiding and abetting FGM. There was also a case of a University girl and High school girls who were subjected to the cut. In Pokot Central, there was an estimated case of over 100 girls being mutilated. In one of the nights, 28 girls were confirmed to have been cut, law enforcers managed to disrupt an ongoing FGM ceremony and rescued 51 girls who were at the verge of being mutilated, four cutters were arrested, 2 other victims were taken to police protection and unfortunately 4 others cutters managed to escape but were being sought after.
In other reports, parents were taking their children to secretly cut them and marrying off some .One of the effects of Covid-19 is further impoverishment in an already poor area parents have the incentive to marrying off their daughters for dowry payments.
AntiFGM research and policy coordination officer Mr. Nicholas Songok stressed out that parents need to understand dangers they are exposing their children to and learn how to protect them. The coordinator said that many parents understand FGM is unlawful and hence perform it out of the way.
in November last year, the government launched the national policy on abandonment of FGM which seeks to eradicate the practice in the country by 2022