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December 16, 2017

‘Death threats’ keep Baringo leaders from reporting FGM

Pokot residents attend a free malaria camp at Kongor in Tiaty subcounty on October 6 /JOSEPH KANGOGO
Pokot residents attend a free malaria camp at Kongor in Tiaty subcounty on October 6 /JOSEPH KANGOGO

Local leaders in Baringo have said they have received death threats for reporting cases of FGM, banditry and cattle rustling.

Residents who have exposed bandits’ hideouts and those behind forced early marriages have also received death threats.

Two MCAs from Tiaty subcounty, who sought anonymity, told the press in Kabarnet town on Tuesday the practices are still rampant among the Pokots.

“It is deadly reporting such practices... I agree with the fact that I come from the hostile Pokot community where FGM is still practiced almost 100 per cent, but I would say I really fear coming out boldly or even having my name mentioned in the media because if I do, I know the next minute the locals will be on my neck,” one said.

2,000 girls recuperate

Last week the Star highlighted more than 2,000 girls from the Pokot community are recuperating after undergoing the cut despite the government ban on FGM.

The circumcised girls are then married off at the age of between 14 and 15 years with the payment of 50 goats, 30 cows or 10 camels as dowry.

The outlawed ritual was also practised secretly among the Tugen, Ilchamus and Marakwet communities, although to a lower extent as compared to the Pokots.

“It is also not a secret that our pastoral communities in Baringo and the bordering counties still posses illegal firearms, so they use them to threaten the lives of their loudmouthed local leaders” a source said.

chiefs, elders threatened

He said chiefs and the elders who attempt to expose the culprits are also threatened.

He appealed to the government to intervene in fighting deep-rooted retrogressive cultures including through disarming civilians in possession of illegal firearms. “The traditional practices have locked out schoolchildren under the age of 14 years. The majority of them, even the girls, are tasked with looking after livestock before being circumcised in readiness for early marriage,” he said.

During the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at Kabarnet Museum grounds on November 25, Baringo county commissioner Peter Okwanyo attributed the deep-rooted cultural practices in Tiaty to illiteracy and lack of awareness.

“They plan and do their outlawed acts in the bush and this makes it difficult to find them in their hideouts,” he said.

Okwanyo said the Pokot community is worst-affected by FGM, cattle rustling and early marriages. He directed the chiefs and the village elders to identify the culprits and hand them over to the police. 

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