Kenya: Brave Woman Fights Female Genital Mutilation in Kwale

9 December 2019

Rehema Nandito, a 38 year-old woman from Lunga Lunga in Kwale County is on a mission to rescue girls from the outlawed female genital mutilation.

Ms Nandito has campaigned against the rite of passage since 2013, earning herself the reputation of being a force to reckon with after rescuing at least 19 girls, majority aged eight to thirteen years.

The mother of six, who hails from Naiserian village in Mwereni Ward, was motivated to fight the crime when one of her daughters was exposed to it.

"I'm happy that some of the girls are in children's homes and secondary schools continuing with their education," she said.

THREATS

Ms Nandito told the Nation in an interview that despite the ban, the practice remains rampant in some villages.

She said the journey has been difficult as she has been threatened by community members.

Ms Nandito said the practice has prevailed due to lack of education on its negative effects.

"I go from house to house to talk to families on the importance of doing away with the practice but some turn hostile and threaten my life," she said.

"It is for this reason that we need to work with key stakeholders to educate communities about FGM. There should be a countywide crusade to halt the barbaric procedure."

Kwale County has recognised Ms Nandito's efforts; she was one of several people recently awarded certificates for their contributions to societal growth through volunteering.

CYCLE

The campaigner regretted that girls who undergo the cut drop out of school because the practice is interconnected with societal problems including child marriage.

She said FGM is child abuse, a human rights violation and an extreme form of violence and discrimination against girls so authorities should take action.

"We urge all local authorities to provide support and services to women and girls affected by FGM in order to break the cycle of abuse once and for all," she said., adding many victims do not speak out for fear of victimisation.

Ms Nandito also called for stringent laws to curb the outdated practice and ensure girls are protected.

PLEDGE

On November 8, community elders and religious leaders across the country committed to end FGM in Kenya by 2022.

The leaders made the commitment at State House, Nairobi, during a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

The declaration by the opinion leaders from 22 counties most affected by FGM is in support of the declaration by President Kenyatta to end the illegal practice in the country by 2022.

The President termed FGM an archaic cultural practice that assaults the wellbeing of individuals and society, and pitched for its complete eradication.

"FGM is a retrogressive practice whose continued existence in our country, in actual fact, assaults our individual and our national consciousness," he said at the ceremony that was used to launch the national policy on the eradication of FGM.

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