Activists in West Pokot County are warning that more than 500 girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation since schools were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
West Pokot is one of the Counties in Kenya with the highest prevalence of FGM. 74% of women in the County have undergone the cut. This is against a national average of 21%.
Half the cases are in Tapach area.
Schools were closed in mid-March to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Anti FGM activists were sounding the alarm after a 12-year-old girl was admitted at the
County Hospital after she suffered excessive bleeding from the cut.
Irep Foundation Director Domitillah Chesang said that more girls would undergo the cut if no action was taken to protect girls from the practice.
Chesang said that girls were being circumcised under the cover of darkness.
Circumcized girls are considered more marriageable, and FGM is often followed by early marriage and early pregnancy.
She asked local chiefs to take action to prevent more girls from getting circumcised.
Meanwhile, Machakos County has seen 4,ooo earl pregnancies within the last five months.
Most of the pregnancies among school-going girls occurred in Athi River.
These statistics were gleaned from the latest Kenya Health Information System survey. The data was collected from hospitals within the region.
It comes to an average of 28 girls daily during the five-month period, however, the highest number of cases were in March when schools were closed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
According to the County Children’s Officer Salome Muthama, the numbers reported are lower than the real numbers.
Authorities in Machakos County are laying the blame for the early pregnancy crisis on poor parenting and a Justice system that fails to deal with defilement decisively.
Muthama said that some girls were sent home to stay with grandparents who were unable to adequately protect them from pedophiles.
The Day of the African Child was celebrated on Tuesday this week.