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Maasai elders and youths fight FGM in Taita Taveta.

A two-front campaign made up of Maasai elders and Young Champions is fighting female genital mutilation in Taita Taveta county.

Elder Yohanna Ngukula said the combined effort had reduced FGM in the area. Young Champions is a community sensitisation group.

'Some of our cultural practices have been overtaken by events and we are now sensitising our people to accept change. We want them to embrace new technology, education, turn to religion and shun FGM,' Yohanna said at a cultural ceremony in Mbuyuni, Taveta.

Another elder, Lazaro Lekeni, said FGM was secretly done by some unscrupulous midwives during childbirth.

FGM is widely practised in Taita Taveta. The county is one of the 17 FGM hotspots in Kenya. Civil society groups estimate that 60 per cent of women in the county are cut.

The areas where it is most prevalent are Mata, Timbila, Salaita, Kishushe, Wundanyi, Maungu and Miasenyi.

Anti-FGM champion Irene Nyantika said three types of FGM are practised in the region. Excision and infibulations are the most common among the Taitas and Maasais while clitoridectomy is preferred by the Somali and Taveta communities. Nyantika said young girls are taken to neighbouring Tanzania to be circumcised. Others are secretly cut by health officers at childbirth.

The 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey shows that 22.3 per cent of women aged 15-49 years have undergone FGM in Taita Taveta.

It also shows that the county leads in the cutting of under-five children at 61.3 per cent, between 5-9 years at 22 per cent, and 10-14 years at 11.1 per cent.

County executive for gender, culture and community affairs Claris Mnyambo asked the government to allocate more funds to agencies fighting FGM and enforce the anti-FGM Act at the grassroots level.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Aug 30, 2019
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