The push to end female circumcision and early marriages in Baringo County continues to bear fruit despite some communities practising it in secret.
The Ilchamus, Pokot and Tugen communities found in the county practice the retrogressive culture.
Men have now come out to educate young girls against female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
Edward Tamar, 67, from Ilchamus community spearheads the crusade against the vice. The retired teacher says he was disturbed due to the low turnout of pupils while he was teaching at Sintaan primary school in Baringo South in 2002.
“As a teacher at the school, I noticed the huge drop out of girls between 2002 and 2004, as a result of early pregnancies, attributed to FGM,” Tamar said.
According to Tamar, the number of girls who had dropped in two years as at that time was 47, which was a high number given that the community was still lagging behind in terms of education.
The girls who were barely teens were married off to old men after undergoing the cut.
The retired teacher now a pastor sat with colleagues to discuss how young and promising girls were dropping out of school due to FGM, and decided if the girls had studied, they would have helped elevate the status of the community.
“We noticed that we had lost instead of gaining and embracing poverty instead of making wealth, that is where I decided to fight against FGM,” Tamar alluded.
The father of 12 said that he refused to have his nine daughters circumcised.
At first, it was difficult for Tamar while fighting the culture but with time with help of World Vision Kenya and the school, he was able to sensitise young girls and women.
“We conducted training among girls and women, it wasn’t easy bearing in mind that our culture encourages them to undergo the cut, it took time for them to even listen to me,” Tamar noted.
As much as the FGM has not been totally eradicated, his joy is seeing some of his girl students successful after embracing change.
The man who has been branded as an anti-FGM champion says he will not relent in fighting against the vices.
“I have met with President Uhuru in State House as we chat on the issue of FGM, and he promised to support the team in fighting it,” Tamar said.
We caught up with one of the women rescued by Tamar many years back.
Janet Naning’oi, nowa teacher at Kiserian Boys, thanks Tamar for his advice in 2002 while she was in Class Four. She was 10 years then.
After refusing to undergo the cut, her sister also joined her.
“We faced rejection as a family; my husband has been ridiculed for marrying an uncircumcised woman and we are isolated when it comes to major cultural events,” she lamented.
Cana rescue center in Tiaty was founded by Rev Christopher Chochoi in 2005 to shelter girls from the Pokot community who had shunned the practice. Baringo South Children Officer Irene Masai said most cases of FGM go unreported.