The war against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender-based violence meted on girls, has received a major boost in Tharaka Nithi County with the establishment of a rescue centre.
The 100-bed-capacity facility constructed in Tharaka Constituency by the ChildFund, will accommodate girls rescued from violent homes.
Speaking during the opening of the facility last week, ChildFund National Programs Coordinator Emily Kanana, said Tharaka Nithi is among counties where the FGM is still practiced.
"This facility will accommodate girls either rescued, or run away from any form of violence including FGM, early marriages and sexual abuse," said Ms Kanana.
She said a trained counsellor and a social worker will be at the facility to offer victims psychosocial support.
The official said staff at the facility will also sensitise families and communities where abused girls come from, on the importance of respecting and upholding girls' rights.
"Since we cannot remain with the rescued girls forever, we will make sure their homes are safe before we reunite them where possible," she said.
She, however, noted that in instances where the matter is in court, the girl will remain at the facility until the case is fully heard and determined.
Those in primary school will be enrolled at Kamarandi Primary School while those in secondary school will join Kamarandi Secondary School to continue with their learning.
ChildFund Country Director Alice Anukur, said one out of three girls in the country (30 per cent) experience sexual harassment and that there is need to protect them.
Together with other players including administrators, police and courts, she said they are dedicated to ensuring FGM comes to an end in Tharaka Constituency.
Ms Anukur revealed the ChildFund program had reached 100 million children across the world and protected them from various forms of violence.
ChildFund Programs and Sponsorship Director, Dr Issa Kipera said rescued girls aged 0-14 years will be sensitised on sexual reproductive health and life skills, while those aged 15-24 years, will be equipped with self-employment skills.
Marimanti Ward Member of Tharaka Nithi County Assembly Susan Ngugi, lauded the program and challenged other players to establish similar programs.
She said the Assembly had passed an anti-FGM Bill, enabling the county government to come up with programs to fight the retrogressive cultural practice.
The MCA however, observed that there is also need for a rescue centre for boys, noting that they also face gender-related challenges.
Statistics from anti-FGM Board show that more than four million women and girls in the country between the ages of 15 to 49 are living with negative effects of FGM.
Girls as young as 10 years in some parts of Tharaka North, Tharaka South and Igambang'ombe sub-counties undergo the 'cut'.
In 2019 President Uhuru Kenyatta launched a national policy on eradication of FGM by 2022.