It is evident that an increased number of girls are at risk of FGM in Kenya and in Africa at large especially at this time the world is fighting the spread of covid 19 pandemic. We are already witnessing the economic and societal impacts of COVID-19 making it difficult for grassroots activists and communities to end FGM. According to UNEPA technical they say, Due to pandemic related disruptions in prevention programs, 2 million female genital mutilation (FGM) cases could be reported over the next decade that would otherwise have been averted.”
Covid 19 has made it hard to fight female genital mutilation as strengths are now shifting to end Corona Virus rather more than FGM. Emphasis to stay at home and lockdowns increased the risk of girls being cut, noting that some communities viewed the lockdown as an extended holiday to take advantage of decreased surveillance and extended recovery time for girls to avoid detection. In addition activists have reported a general de-prioritization of FGM services in favor of responding directly to COVID-19.
The government directive for schools and churches to be closed, lockdown orders also resulted in the closure of essential safe spaces in relation to gender based violence including refuges, safe houses, and women’s shelters, which provided vital alternatives for women and girls at risk of GBV including FGM. Kenya particularly the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, in response to COVID-19, ordered the blanket closure of safe houses and refuges across Kenya without consultation of NGOs providing such services.
And at this point, measures needs to be put in place to combat this act .For instance by increasing funds to grassroots and women-led organizations working to end FGM, including greater provision for emergency, flexible cash-based assistance during humanitarian crises . Strengthen capacity building and technical assistance to grassroots organizations to support and expand new forms of programmatic activity and innovation during COVID-19 can also be of great impact in fighting FGM .
Technology and communications companies should also scale up initiatives available to grassroots and women-led organizations to enable them to access and effectively utilize technology to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 .Recently the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta promised to end FMG by 2022 while speaking at ICPD25 on Match and the government is putting mechanism to achieve that.
Female genital mutilation is a deeply ingrained cultural practice that necessitates community-based interventions to break down cultural barriers. Organizations are attempting to raise awareness about this human rights violation and to bring about long-term change in order to eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030.