Muslim clerics in Tana River have vowed to lead an onslaught against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by delinking it from Islamic doctrines.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (2014), 51 per cent of Muslim women are more likely to have been circumcised than women from other religious groups.
“Muslim women are more likely to have had the type of circumcision in which their genital area is sewn closed (30 per cent) than women from all other religious groups(4-6 per cent),’’ reads the KDHS report.
Plan International and the office of Tana River County Commissioner held a one-day training of Muslim clerics drawn from Tana River and Galledyetu Sub-Counties in Hola.
Muhammed Argamso, a religious leader from Wayu location revealed his eight daughters were circumcised without his outright permission, resulting in health complications.
He has vowed not to allow any of his granddaughters to go through the ordeal.
Four of Argamso’s daughters are married and all have delivered through cesarean section.
“I have gained immense knowledge from this workshop; I have taken the position that my grandchildren will not undergo the cut. I’m going to summon my daughters and their husbands and tell them that my grandchildren will not be circumcised because it is not in the doctrines of the Islamic religion,” said Argamso.
“It is a retrogressive outdated cultural practice, if any of my granddaughters will be circumcised after today I will report the matter for the law to take its course,’’ reiterated Muhammed Argamso.
Sheikh Abdillahi Gudo an Anti-FGM crusader said Muslim communities practising FGM misconstrue it to be the teachings of the Islamic religion relying on weak doctrines.
Sheikh Gudo said: “The girl should be left the way she was born, but not to mutilate the girl and insult the religion, Islam doesn’t advocate for FGM but male circumcision.”
He added, “Today we have come to educate religious leaders, women, and the youth that FGM is not in the Islamic law; people should leave it so that girls can live in peace.”
Sheikh Gudo said they have made strides in the awareness creation among communities practising FGM through dialogue.
“Communities have started to change, earlier people were not listening, there are people who have left their girls uncut, including me,” he said adding that the vice will take time to eradicate.
Habiba Salat, a women champion against FGM said more women should be enlightened on the effects of the cultural scourge on young girls.
Speaking at the workshop Dr Hawa Abdul Ghafoor said FGM has evolved and is nowadays carried out in hospitals by rogue medics.
Plan International Tana River Coordinator George Galugalu said they have held similar workshops with chiefs to acquaint them with relevant laws relating to children like the Anti-FGM Act 2011, Basic Education Act, Sexual Offenses act, Children Act and the school reentry policy to utilize them in protecting the rights of girls.
In May, Tana River County Commissioner Thomas Sankei launched a five-year County Action Plan that aims to accelerate the eradication of FGM in the county through strengthening multi-sectoral interventions, coordination, networking, partnership, and community participation in accelerating the eradication of FGM.
The Action Plan also addresses gender inequality by promoting the empowerment of girls and women, strengthening research, data collection, information, and knowledge management on FGM, and addressing emerging trends and practices aimed at avoiding law enforcement and capacity-building FGM actors.
In Tana River, FGM is practised by five communities namely the Orma, Wardei, Wailwana, Watta, and Munyonya.