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January 19, 2019

Fear of voter backlash hurts war on FGM - MP

Nice Nailantei on May 13 in Oldonyo Oibor./KURGAT MARIDANY
Nice Nailantei on May 13 in Oldonyo Oibor./KURGAT MARIDANY

Elected leaders from Maasailand are not keen to fight FGM for fear of losing votes, Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito has said.

The Maasais practise female genital mutilation as a rite of passage into womanhood.

On Sunday, Metito said politicians do not want to be seen to be going against their culture, even though FGM is backward.

"No Maasai elected leader worth his salt can have the muscle to preach against female genital mutilation in public,” he said in Nomayianat village, Kajiado South, during the homecoming party for Nice Nailantei.

Last month, Nailantei, 27, was named among Time’s 100 most influential people — a prestigious yearly list published by the American newsmagazine.

It recognises extraordinary people whose contributions make the world a better place.

Nailantei refused to be circumcised when she was barely nine despite insistence by her relatives.

On Sunday, she said she was devastated by hate towards her family.

"Everyone saw me as a bad example, someone who disrespected her family and went against the ways of the community,” Nailantei said.

"Families wouldn’t let me play with their daughters."

Her grandfather, a respected elder, unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to undergo the cut.

Metito said politicians who renounce the custom in public are only interested in publicity but do not mean what they say.

"There’s nothing a politician fears most like losing votes. I’m proud Nailantei has succeeded where elected leaders failed. We celebrate her achievement in the fight against FGM,” he said.

Nailantei has been appointed Amref’s global FGM ambassador.

Metito urged leaders to support her so she can achieve more and transform the lives of girls.

The legislator thanked Amref for drilling boreholes for residents and offering leadership training progammes for girls.

"Nailantei will also be an ambassador for the people of Kajiado South. She has done us proud by putting Kajiado in the world limelight,” he said.

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