The fight against Female Genital Mutilation has experienced a lot of challenges ranging from the perpetrators changing tactics to enable them to continue with the vice to crossing over to neighbouring countries to access the cut.
Previous multiple Anti-FGM campaign seminars held along the Kenyan-Tanzania border and especially in Migori county, reveal a key finding that most of the surrounding community lived in fear of exposing the FGM perpetrators.
The findings further state that the local community are willing to cooperate with the police in sharing information but they fear being exposed and hence putting their lives at risk with those deeply rooted in the outlawed FGM activities.
Due to this reason, the cross border Anti-FGM campaigners which include the local activists, journalists from Kenya and Tanzania, and NGO partners have come up with solutions to develop new mechanisms to outsmart the cutters.
Speaking during a cross border milestone assessment between Kenya and Tanzania Anti-FGM activists, Ms Rose Nazal from People Development Forum, PDF, a Tanzania based organization, said they have developed an online digital platform that will be used to track and report any incident of FGM activity within the community.
“We came to realize the community is willing to cooperate with us in reporting matters FGM, however, the fear of retaliation from the cutters keeps them away. Therefore, we have come up with this digital system,” said Nazal.
Nazal says that through their various interventions, they have realized that most of the people are willing to report the FGM circumcisers but are scared of their safety as they fear attacks from the said practitioners. Nazal said that the system will not only help in reporting the vice but will also keep the reporter anonymous.
In addition, she said that this system will report the exact location and time of the day where the activity is taking place. This will also help the law enforcers to manoeuvre very swiftly to the scene without raising any alarm.
“The community has the right information that the police needs to nab those carrying out the vice. Through this system, we are sure no one will see the police coming,” added Nazal.
The system is already up and running in neighbouring Tanzania and can be accessed using a mobile phone. The system has not yet been launched and implemented on the Kenyan side. Nazal noted that the continued cross border activity has seen activists creating a slot of spaces for 100 girls from Kenya to be taken to rescue camps in Masanga Tanzania, during the impending cutting season.
Vincent Mwita from Tunaweza empowerment Kenya said that their continued interaction with activists from Tanzania has borne fruits, as they have learnt of this new technique used in Tanzania in the fight against FGM.
Mwita noted that despite championing for the end of FGM the main challenge that pose threat is the existence of reformed circumcisers within the local community, who believe that cutting is the only income-generating activity for them.
“One key critical issue that has come out is the economic empowerment of the reformed circumcisers. We need to help them get an alternative income-generating activity for them so that they do not backslide into cutting as a business,” notes Mwita
He, however, urged the government and other private sectors to come in and offer an alternative source of livelihoods to the reformed.
Charles Olwambo an AMREF official noted that they have immensely invested in cross-boundary community engagement as it is a key to ending FGM along the borderline.
Olwambo cited the porous border, spread Kuria clan elders in two countries and the disunity between the clan elders are other key challenging issues that are stumbling the Anti- FGM campaign.
“We want to engage activists in Kenya and Tanzania to help monitor the activity so that when it happens on either side, there is no escape route for the perpetrators. That is why we are engaging the clan elders from both sides,” said Olwambo.
Article first published on https://www.kbc.co.ke/cross-border-anti-fgm-campaigners-develop-digital-tracking-system/