Call for Kenyans to discard outdated cultural practices
Mabel Keya-Shikuku and Kevin Bogita KNA
Stakeholders in Narok have launched a helpline to help girls in distress to report any incidences of early marriages or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and any other acts that infringe on their rights.
During a Teen Conference held at the Narok County Academy in Narok town, yesterday, the stakeholders launched helpline number 0794821444 as a number for any girl who wants to get help in time of distress.
Speaking during the summit, Narok County Commissioner, Mr. Samuel Kimiti, declared war against early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other outdated and illegal cultural practices that have made the girl-child lag behind in education and retarded socio-economic development of Narok County.
Kimiti said anyone found marrying off under-age girls or subjecting them to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), especially during this long school holidays will face the full force of the law.
“Anybody who will infringe on the rights of our girls through mutilation in the name of culture will face the full wrath of the law,” he cautioned.
Kimiti also urged the residents to shun any outdated cultural practices that have made the Maasai community to lag behind in development for many years.
He called upon area chiefs and administrators to help identify such incidences, especially during this long holiday period when most girls fall victim.
“My advice to any man who wants to marry, is to look for a woman who has finished education, is mature and over eighteen years of age,” he added
Narok Governor’s wife, Mrs. Sarah Tunai, said the national demographic survey 2016 reported teenage pregnancies in Narok County to be at 40 percent which is very high as compared to an average of 18 percent in Kenya, adding that these has been fuelled by traditions such as FGM that have been overtaken by time.
“This means that out of 10 girls in our County, four of them succumb to early pregnancies and leave school,” Mrs. Tunai said.
She further reiterated that the spread of STI’s is very high among teens as compared to mature adults and therefore noted teens should abstain and take care of their reproductive health.
“FGM has left scars on our girls who have also been affected by Fistula cases due to early pregnancies and I, therefore, urge them to be focused on career life skills, fight for their rights,” she said.
The County Executive Committee (CEC) Member for Education, Ms. Cecilia Wuapwari, said that young girls need education and not subjection to practices that affect their lives.
“We are acting in accordance with the directive by the President who said that FGM will stop and if anyone tries to force things upon you please call the helpline,” Cecilia stressed.
The Teen summit has been going on for past three days with 150 youths, both boys and girls, from Narok East and Narok North Sub- Counties being in attendance.
It’s is the second summit whose main objective is to train and engage the youth on family planning and reproductive health with another expected to be held in Trans-Mara next week.
County Director of Health, Dr. Francis Kiio, Ward Administrators and Chiefs who present advocated for eradication of teenage pregnancies in Narok County and asked them to be ambassadors that promote the protection of the girl-child.
The County is leading in early pregnancies in terms of age, numbers and other demographics, which has been attributed to socio-cultural practices of the Maasai community where a girl is circumcised and married off at an early age.
Early marriages and limited use of contraceptives report shows that 26 out of every 100 women in Kenya get married before the age of 19 which also puts them at risk of pregnancy related complications and 103 out of every 1000 pregnancies occur between the age of 15 and 19.