An Incident of Female Genital Mutilation was Unearthed in Merur Village, West Pokot, Kenya
In Merur, West Pokot Subcounty, a distressing incident of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was uncovered on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, sending shockwaves through the serene village of Merur. Thanks to the vigilant efforts of local authorities, this heinous practice was brought to light.
The Assistant Chief of the area, Mr. Emmanuel Loktari, received crucial information regarding the ongoing FGM practice, and he acted promptly by alerting the Head Chief, Mr. Benjamin Lomering’ole. Both chiefs initiated a swift response to address this alarming situation.
They managed to apprehend three young girls who had recently undergone FGM:
- Gladys Chesimbolia, 18 years old and a mother of one.
- Laura Todomuk, 17 years old and also a mother of one.
- Milka Ng’olekapel, 14 years old.
Regrettably, a number of other girls managed to escape, but the chiefs were able to detain one of the cutters, Chepöchemosöi Chaka, who had contemplated suicide upon being caught. Currently, the three girls and the cutter are being held at Kapenguria Police Headquarters pending thorough investigations and subsequent court proceedings.
Upon interrogation, the girls revealed the distressing reasons that compelled them to undergo this procedure:
- Relentless mockery and ridicule from their peers.
- Stigmatization and being labeled as “unclean.”
- Ostracization from their social circles.
- Immense peer and familial pressure.
- Coercion from their spouses.
- Pressure from co-wives who believed they couldn’t share a man with an uncut woman.
The girls shared the hurtful words used to describe them, such as “Ichinyi lata sokoria nyomi katoö” (You look like a Sokoria tree with thorns, no one can access you). Even when they attempted to borrow an axe to cut firewood, they were told, “Ala wembö kïny tomorrow shoka” (Before you buy an axe, start with the blade first), further emphasizing their humiliation.
In a significant development, Gladys Chesimbolia’s mother, Mrs. Cheposera Chesimbolia, has also been taken into custody as part of the ongoing investigation.
This alarming incident highlights the pressing need to combat FGM in Merur village and the broader West Pokot subcounty. We urge all stakeholders, including the government, to join hands with organizations such as I_Rep Foundation to protect and support the affected girls.
The team of Kenyan activists had an eye-opening visit to the Child Protection Unit in Kapenguria, where they witnessed the dedication of individuals working tirelessly to safeguard children’s rights. In Mosop Location in Pokot Central, they met two incredible parents, Mr. Musa Kiranyang and Mrs. Hellen Ritakwang, who are determined to protect their daughters from the risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Mr. Musa shared his concern that his daughter is at risk of undergoing FGM due to peer pressure from friends and neighbours. He’s been vigilant in ensuring her safety but knows the challenge she faces.
Mrs. Ritakwang, who herself experienced FGM, expressed her strong opposition to the practice and her heartfelt desire to protect her daughter from the same fate. Both parents urgently stressed the need to shield their girls from negative influences within their community.
The team also met with Cynthia Chemtai, Delphine Chepeng’at, and Diana Cherop from Mosop Location, who bravely shared their experiences. They are under immense pressure from friends and peers to undergo FGM. They fear that FGM is becoming an inevitable reality, with parents feeling compelled to marry off their daughters to alleviate poverty, and FGM being perceived as a cultural norm.
This is a crucial moment for change. We must stand together to protect these young girls and create a future free from FGM. It’s time to raise awareness, support these parents, and work towards eradicating this harmful practice from our society.
Join us in this fight for the rights and safety of these girls. Share your thoughts, spread the word, and let’s make a difference together!