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Social Approach Used in West Pokot to Stop FGM, helped Cases to Decline

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West Pokot County has recorded a decrease in cases of female genital mutilation, especially in rural areas following a campaign carried out by non-governmental organizations in collaboration with the locals.

Investigations show that in the Kenya-Uganda border areas, cases of violence against girls and women have decreased. According to the 2022 health report, cases of female genital mutilation have decreased from 38 percent in 1998 to 15 percent in 2022, and from 21 percent in 2014.

Nationally, West Pokot is represented by 74 percent of those cases. The shortage registered, is due to new methods that have been introduced by social organizations that fight against these evils. Community Change, is one of the success story systems used to mobilize the fight against FGM and early marriage among girls.

One area where the system works well is Alale, an area that borders the neighboring country of Uganda which had many cases of female genital mutilation and arranged marriages. The new system, sponsored by World Vision, is being used to fight against outdated cases of female genital mutilation and early marriage among young girls and to promote education in rural areas.

In addition, the system involves community members being given training and community mobilisers to change the mindset of the residents, which has helped persistent criminals surrender their knives.

More than 300 children have returned to school, and private groups have been formed to strengthen the investments of residents who have rebelled against the evils. Likewise, more than 540 members of society have joined the fight against FGM and started protecting girls.

Groups are also designed to develop awareness against these evils. Alale, residents have also opened a 13 km road so that the area can be accessed easily.

World Vision Kenya Manager, West Pokot County Tom Masinde says the Community Change system has helped to a large extent to highlight FGM, early marriages, stigma against disadvantaged groups, traditions and corrupt cultures.

Other measures that the organization has taken are, equality and justice for all in prisons, reducing social conflicts, fighting the war against gender violence and children.

“Two female genital mutilators have rebelled against the work in the Alale area. December 2022, no case of female genital mutilation was reported,” Masinde says.

He told reporters that residents meet three times a week, to discuss strengthening strategies to fight FGM and other targeted evils.

“They meet, and introduce themselves through groups. They go through these platforms to make clear the challenges they are experiencing and seek solutions,” he said.

Expressing his belief in the Community Change system to transform West Pokot society, Masinde said it has begun to bear fruit as women have now opened up and revealed the ‘circumcision’. In addition, they use groups to strengthen themselves financially, in terms of income and development.

“Currently they are collecting and borrowing money to help children in school,” he said.

The cluster operation also involves environmental sanitation.

“Many housing estates did not have toilets, but now half of them have these ‘self-help centers’,” he said, adding that in the housing estate, some residents have built rooms for children to study.

Alale Division Administrative Officer, Maurice Ogweno, confirms that cases of female genital mutilation have decreased in the area.

“Only one case of female genital mutilation was reported in 2023 and the perpetrator has been arrested,” said Mr Ogweno.

Apart from the awareness through non-governmental organizations, the official mentioned the frequent meetings organized by the village elders to help a lot in dealing with cases of female genital mutilation.

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