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Stemming the Surge in Taita Taveta

The COVID19 restriction measures urging people to stay at home and closing schools has been used by cutters to carry out the retrogressive practice of FGM in homes. During the first week of July, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the company of the county leadership and Ministry officers engaged the National Government Administration Officer on His Excellency the President’s vision and commitment to end FGM in Kenya by 2022. They were accompanied by a team led UNFPA Kenya Representative Dr. Olajide Ademola. The objective of the meeting was to engage National Government Administration towards accelerating the President’s commitment and campaign, addressing the chiefs and assistant’s chief towards delivery of this promise. The meeting was attended by youth, NGAO, elders and spiritual leaders, youths, chair of Maendeleo ya Wanawake, representation from the Country Government and Country Medical Professionals. During the engagement with the County leadership, it emerged that practice of FGM in Taveta was being performed on infants and had resulted in countless deaths as stated by an elder. The Gender Director, Taita Taveta highlighted that the while the practice reflects low percentages the practice is still exercised in secrecy with the infants as young as a month-old baby being victims. This has resulted in the death of infants in the county due to excessive bleeding among other health-related complications. His sentiments were echoed by the CEC Gender and the Taita Elder present during the meeting. The FGM hotspots in the county include; Mata, Kitobo, Salaita, Timbila, Olkug, Ngutini, Eldoro and Marodo, all in Taveta Sub-County, while in Taita Sub-County the practice was prevalent in Sagalla and Kasighau. The meetings sought to engage the community on this emerging trend of FGM on infants that disenfranchised them of an opportunity to health growth. During the meeting the Chief Administrative Secretary laid emphasis on this grave violation on the rights of the child noting that, the Government has a constitutional responsibility to protect the rights of the child. The CAS reiterated that parents, guardians, relatives and local administration that violate the law in the pretext of culture are in violation of the law. Dr. Olajide on behalf of UNFPA Kenya made a commitment to organize Community wide local meetings in three localities villages to be identified by the Gender Director liaising with the County Commissioners office. The CAS further asked the Gender Sector Working Group and County Government Leadership to support the development of a bill to further enhance the AntiFGM Law and provide intervention on the practice. Taita Taveta County is considered one of the 22 FGM Hotspots in the country going by the 2014 KDHS publication that revealed the following worrying FGM statistic