By Raisa Okwaras
The Government of Kenya yesterday launched the Day of the African Child (DAC) with 2022’s theme being ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’.
The launch took place at Kehancha in Migori County, Kenya and it was in preparation for the main event of the Day of the African Child (DAC) on Saturday, June 16, 2022. Linah Chebii Kilimo, who was the Guest of Honor, stated how she has come a long way in advocating for the elimination of harmful practices, including FGM in her Kalenjin community and the entire world at large.
“You must put a full stop to Female Genital Mutilation because it is harmful to our communities, our children, and the development of our communities. For gender equality to be achieved, we must remove all the hurdles and things that will stop the women from exploiting their potential like the way the men do,” said the Anti-FGM Chairperson Linah Chebii Kilimo.
The Deputy County Commissioner, Kuria West Sub-county Andrew Mwiti spoke of how instrumental it was for Kuria West to be selected as the launch area for this year’s DAC.
“We have made huge strides towards eliminating harmful practices affecting both female and male children in Kuria West. I am happy to inform you that we are not where we were as a community on matters of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). For instance, this year, perpetrators had plans to conduct FGM on girls around March and April. Luckily, we worked with various stakeholders to ensure that no girl underwent the vile act,” he said.
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He also mentioned that 49 perpetrators who lured and conducted FGM on girls in December 2021 were arrested and arraigned in court. Their cases are currently ongoing.
One great intervention in Migori County is DREAMS under USAID- Nuru ya Mtoto, where they implement dreams in the four sub-counties in Migori that is, Awendo, Uriri, Kuria East, and Kuria West. The intervention program targets girls and young children to prevent HIV infections and unintended pregnancies.
Susan Akinyi Otiku of Last Smile 40 elaborated on how the implementation of new ways of addressing FGM works in shunning the vice.
“We realized that the method that people have been using has not been the best. For the last three years, we went through the ministry of education to shun the vice. We have the models which currently are used in schools. We teach and collaborate with teachers in schools so that every child in the school as young as five years old has been registered into the program. We believe that after four years, the child knows her rights about FGM,” she said.
Various stakeholders spoke on other matters revolving around child safety including child labor, mental health in children, HIV/AIDS, and child health in general, orphaned children.
The Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR), Kisumu Regional Officer John Oduor spoke on the involvement of our politicians in children’s matters.
“Some of you see sanitary towels being offered in schools as part of Free Primary Education. It was a serious lobby issue guided by Madam Chebii Kilimo…How can we work together as CSOs to influence the inclusion of children issues in every politician’s manifesto so that when we vote them in, we are voting in the interest of children,” said John Oduor of the KAACR, Kisumu Regional Office.
According to the MCA of Bukira Central/ Ikerege ward Hon. James Chacha Owankwi told Linah Chebii Kilimo how the ward needs funding to curb FGM since it is the prime area of FGM cases in the county. He also spoke on the benefits of education to the girl child.
“As leaders, we are pushing to put an end to FGM and work towards having our children access quality education. We are asking for great interventions in Kuria to enable all vulnerable children to have access to quality education. There are so many children in this area that are facing difficulties in accessing quality education. They include children that have undergone FGM, orphaned children, and those from humble backgrounds,” said Hon. David Chacha Matthew.
The Governor of the Kenya Children Assembly Migori County Miriam Matiko spoke of Kenya still has a long way to go in ending FGM. Apart from its physical health, emotional, and psychological setbacks, FGM hinders girls from continuing with their education, hence their quality of life.
What ways are instrumental in eliminating harmful practices affecting children? Comment below.