No schoolgirl screened for FGM, Board says

Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya addressing during Jamhuri Celebration at Narok Stadium on December 12,2018.He announced lifting of curfew in clash-prone area in Olposimoru,Narok North Sub-County. [PHOTO:ROBERT KIPLAGAT]

No schoolgirl has been subjected to screening to establish if they have been circumcised, an agency has said.

Narok County Commissioner George Natambeya recently issued a directive that all primary and secondary schoolgirls be tested at health facilities before they are admitted to schools.

This would help identify parents who allowed their daughters to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and who would then be arrested and prosecuted.

Mr Natembeya had also directed that all girls be tested for pregnancy before they could be admitted or allowed back when schools reopen.

He said the twin tests would be mandatory and a condition girls would meet before they were allowed back to schools. 

This followed increased cases of FGM and teenage pregnancies in the county. 

However, Natembeya’s orders in the fight against FMG and teenage pregnancy were not well received by some leaders, who said this would stigmatise those affected.

Yesterday, the Anti-FGM Board said no schoolgirl underwent the recommended screening.

The board also confirmed that all girls in Narok County were back to school in accordance with the Ministry of Education calendar.

In a statement, the board said it was also working with county commissioners and chiefs to create awareness on the dangers of FGM.

“The board hereby confirms that no girl has been paraded for FGM screening as has been alleged in the last few days,” read the statement.

This came as Natembeya distanced himself from the order to screen girls, claiming he was quoted out of context. 

The administrator, who was addressing journalists in his office yesterday, said he was referring to cases before court, where girls would undergo tests as a way of gathering evidence.

He said random FGM tests on girls would not be conducted forcefully, unless in cases where suspects had been arrested.

“Just like in a case of rape or defilement, any child suspected to have been subjected to FGM will have to be examined by a qualified health practitioner as a normal procedure. I did not direct that all girls will be examined, as that will infringe on their right to privacy,” said Natembeya.

He had come under fire over his announcement.

The administrator said it had been difficult for the security personnel to arrest FGM suspects, as some of them had been fleeing to the neighbouring Tanzania.

When he made the remarks, Natembeya said he had also formed a team to investigate teenage pregnancies. He said the team would be moving to schools to conduct the tests on girls.

At 40 per cent, Narok leads in teenage pregnancies, according to the latest Demographic Health Survey report.