Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya has warned chiefs and their assistants over the rising cases of FGM, child marriages and early pregnancies in the region. He said they would be personally held responsible for any such cases.
Rift Valley is among regions affected most by FGM, child marriages and early pregnancies cases with Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot and Kuria leading. With school closed and the girls at home because of Covid-19, the cases are on the rise.
Mr Natembeya spoke during a security meeting in the region, noting that each chief should be alert on the ongoing in their respective jurisdictions.
“If a girl gets pregnant in your area, I will assume you are responsible for the pregnancy until the baby is born, and a DNA done. Before that, you will be responsible for taking her to the clinic,” Natembeya warned.
He also notified men who lure teenage girls of arrest should they be caught.
“We will fight you even if there is corona; if you elope with a minor, we will come after you. Most of you previously eloped with the minors to Tanzania before the borders were closed; I wonder where you will go now,” he said.
Mr Natembeya said girl-child education, which is good for the country’s future, is a collective responsibility, taking issue with the Kalenjin and Kuria communities, which he said tend to marry off their young girls.
The administrator also pointed a finger at women who take their daughters through FGM then declare them ripe for marriage; warning them of dire consequences.
His concerns come after reports indicated that FGM and child marriages were still ongoing in the region.
Founder and Executive Director Samburu Girls Foundation Dr Josphine Kulea recently raised the red flag over possible child marriages in Samburu.
AfricaGender Indaba an organisation pushing for gender equality and transformation in Africa also lifted the lid on ongoing child marriages in Kuria.
The Anti-FGM Board welcomed the Rift Valley regional commissioner’s remarks terming them timely.
“The board applauds Mr Natembeya for his steadfastness in ending FGM and reminding chiefs to remain alert and prevent FGM and child marriages,” said in a statement.
The agency indicated the dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the government to contain Covid-19 has created a high risk period for FGM practice.
“We urge members of the public to remain alert and report suspicious cases to the relevant authorities. The board is committed to end Covid-19 in Kenya and harmful practices,” the board said.
A report by United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) dubbed Girls not Brides says about 23 per cent of Kenyan girls are married before their 18th birthday and four per cent are married before the age of 15.
Unicef also indicates Kenya as having the 20th highest absolute number of child brides in the world at 527,000.
It names Migori and Tana River as among the counties where girls marry at a very young age.