FGM, early marriages on the rise in Taita Taveta – Haki Africa

Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid(l) and Gender & children rights officer Salma Hemed addressing journalists in Voi on Saturday, November 3, 2018. /Star

 

An estimated 60 per cent of women in Taita Taveta county have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), human rights group, Haki Africa has revealed.

The organisation’s Gender and Children Rights officer Salma Hemed on Saturday said the vice is been undertaken secretly by some unscrupulous midwives, elderly women, and parents during childbirth.

Taita Taveta is one of the 17 hotspots in Kenya with regard to the practice of FGM.

“In this county, FGM is a hugely practiced cultural activity and has affected many women whose homes have ended breaking up and left by their husbands,” Salma said.

She told journalists during a presser at a Voi hotel that women from Mata, Timbila, Salaita, Kishushe, Wundanyi, Maungu, and Miasenyi areas were the most affected.

According to Salma, many parents in the affected areas have yielded to cultural demands to circumcise their daughters for fear of being sidelined by their families.

She noted that early marriages and teenage pregnancies were also on the rise in the county.

“Early marriage rate is at the worst levels in the whole country. Many of our girls have dropped out of school,” Salma lamented over the issue that came to the fore during the just-concluded KCPE exams.

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

The survey also shows that the county leads in the cutting of infants in Kenya with 61.3 per cent of infants under 5 years having undergone the cut.

Further, 22 per cent of children between 5-9 years, and 11.1 per cent of children between 10-14 years have been cut.

Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid, however, blamed laxity by authorities to curb the vices.

He said some government officers were working with perpetrators of human rights to commit crimes.

“These violations are happening in full knowledge of the authorities. In certain instances, police even contribute to violations of human rights as is the case of land rights in Taveta.”

“Women and girls in Taita Taveta are Kenyans too and deserve to have their constitutional rights and freedoms guaranteed,” Khalid said.

Michael Mwakazi, chairman Men Championing Women’s Rights Group, asked investigative bodies to unearth the unscrupulous officers involved in the immorality.

He said: “We are raising a red alarm over the state of women and girls rights and demand that immediate action is taken to arrest the situation.”

Sauti ya Wanawake’s Edith Agola said cases of rape, defilement, and incest were reported to be highest in the county.

She said the cases might increase further should the county and national governments fail to deal with the heinous crime.

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