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July 21, 2018

Chiefs abetting FGM, rape to be punished

Makkah Kassim demonstrates how FGM is carried out among the Somali community./STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Makkah Kassim demonstrates how FGM is carried out among the Somali community./STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The government has renewed its fight against female genital mutilation and those abetting rape.

Garissa county commissioner Joshua Chepchieng said the government will hold administrators accountable in areas where the crimes are committed.

He spoke at a baraza in Garissa Ndogo yesterday.

Other measures to reduce the cases include taking tough action on parents, guardians and community elders who resolve the cases through ‘maslah’ — a traditional conflict resolution mechanism.

The biggest problem in fighting FGM and settling rape cases in rural areas is that the small communities live by themselves, making it hard for any third party to be involved, the county commissioner said.

“The government will act firmly on these cases and work closely with the Judiciary to speed up such cases when they are reported,” Chepchieng said.

He added, “For the chiefs, you better be warned. You will be personally held responsible when such cases happen within your areas.”

Northeastern has one of the highest FGM rates in the country. Statistics show more than 98 per cent of girls undergo the cut.

Efforts by the government to fight FGM have not been completely successful because it is deeply entrenched among the communities.

On Tuesday, Garissa Woman Representative Anab Gure asked the government to put more effort in the war on FGM and rape.

She said the two remain the biggest challenge in girls’ education.

In March, an MCA said rape cases must no longer be settled by traditional ‘maslah’ compensation that makes the victim suffer.

Garissa county nominated MCA Fatuma Abdi said she will table a motion to ban the use of ‘maslah’ to settle rape cases. Speaking during International Women’s Day, Abdi said rapists should be subjected to the law and punished.

“The bill we intend to table will ensure elders promoting maslah for rape cases are jailed, regardless of their social status,” Abdi said.

Kamuthe Women Network chairperson Makka Kassim condemned ‘maslah’, saying it was previously used with good intention by the elders, but has become a self-seeking venture.

They accept payment from families who don’t want to be shamed by the public judicial system.

“Elders are more interested in their personal gain, not justice. The victim is never part of the negotiation during maslah,” Kassim said.

The victim is left to suffer and in most cases becomes traumatised because she is rejected by the community. This might lead to suicide, she said.

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