Four Garissa female circumcisers on Tuesday surrendered their tools of trade after 10 years of engagement in the harmful practice.
Raba Kunow Aden, Muhubo Degow Shide, Hidoi Ibrahim and Aisha Dahir are from Bula Iftin in Garissa Township.
They handed over among others razor blades, herbs used to stop bleeding, disinfectants, gloves and threads.
They told county commissioner Meru Mwangi that they gave up the harmful practice following increased campaigns by the local administration to stop female genital mutilation.
The women, aged between 55 and 68, were accompanied by Bula Iftin West senior chief Hareth Khalif.
They said they started earning income from the practice after losing their main source of livelihood – livestock – to drought 10 years ago.
Raba, 68, said: “The prevailing circumstances forced me to get into the practice because I was the sole breadwinner of my family. We lost a herd of 150 cattle.
“I must admit that I never enjoyed this practice because I knew that it was wrong and in the event the government caught up with me, then I would have been in big trouble.”ANOTHER CHAPTER: The former circumcisers outside the Garissa county commissioner’s office after handing over their tools of trade on Tuesday..
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Mwangi thanked the women for heeding the government’s call to abandon the practice.
He appealed to other female circumcisers to follow suit. “I commend these women for their bold gesture. This is the way to go. I appeal to them to be our ambassadors and reach out to their former colleagues and tell them to give up the practice.”
The administrator said the government will give those willing to surrender the items a window to do so and no legal action will be taken against them.
He said the window will not be indefinite, noting that chiefs and their assistants have been instructed to arrest those who abet the practice.
Mwangi said the government will assist women who abandoned the practice under the Women Enterprise Fund to give them another means of lifelihood.
Female circumcision is secretly practised in the region despite efforts by the government, NGOs and women’s rights crusaders to stop it.
Two weeks ago, Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh, while meeting administrators in Garissa two weeks ago, said the government wants to eliminate FGM by 2022.