Gender activists in Kuria community have raised fear of Female Genital Mutilation activities going underground amid sustained pressure from government.

The community in Migori often carries out annual circumcision for both boys and girls as a rite of passage to adulthood in open ceremonies that begin with prayers in shrines for four clans including Abagumbe, Abanyabasi, Abairege and Abakira.

During December holidays, sustained efforts from activist, police, local administrators and well-wishers ensured girls’ circumcision was disrupted completely.

Kuria West Children Officer James Omondi said in December they managed to rescue over 300 girls from circumcision in the Kuria area, 120 of them were in several shelters.

He said 65 circumcised girls were taken to Manga Children Remand prison after their parents were arrested and charged in court.

“We realised most circumcisers have been moving from house to house at night instead of cultural centers for communal circumcision to avoid detections,” Omondi said.

He also said during celebrations, girls are often given boys clothes to conceal their crimes.

“We relied heavily on word from community members to make arrests and thwart circumcision and also rescue girls, we need to build on this surivallence,” Omondi said.

He was speaking in Kehancha town on Friday at the end of a three days training of 200 women and youths activists across the Kuria training on surveillance by Msichana Empowerment, a NGO, which also brought together chiefs, polices, former circumcisers and elders.

“We are afraid that FGM will now go underground and happen in homes to avert arrests, we saw this for the first time last year. We are here to prepare adequately,” Magdalene Majumah, an officer at Msichana Empowerment said.

She said the team will help in alerting chiefs and their assistants and police to move with speed and avert circumcision.

“We succeeded when elders said during cultural practices to kick off circumcision they will not include girls, but others are still adamant. In other urban areas where the vice has gone underground, even medics are procured, we don’t want Kuria to move that way,” Majumah said.

Jackline Murimi, a former circumciser said she stopped the exercise three years ago after two of her colleagues were arrested.

“We knew it was illegal, but after two colleagues were arrested and sentenced in court I choose stop when I was trained on negative effects. Others who still circumcise girls opt to move in homes at night,” she said.

The three said because the FGM calendar was disrupted on December with change of education calendar and huge pressure from administration there is fear the exercise will pick again from April when KCSE exams will be over.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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