Joint Press Conference In Memory Of Sasiano Nchoe, Who Died After FGM Will Urge Community To Stop Practice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
20 April 2010
Nairobi: Mary Ciugu, +254 20 2719-832/ 2719-868
Narok: Chris Murray 0721339985
Narok, Kenya – Sasiano Nchoe was a 12 year old Maasai girl who died on August 18, 2008, after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM). Upon persistent advocacy from local organisation Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, a local safe house for girls escaping FGM, and international human rights organisation Equality Now, the law enforcement pursued the case and on April 1, 2010, the accused – the circumciser and the father of Sasiano both pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were each sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
On April 21, 2010, international human rights organisation Equality Now will organize a joint press conference with our Kenyan partner Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative and relevant members of local law enforcement, to raise awareness of this significant legal decision, which is the first known long-term sentencing in an FGM case not only within the Maasai community but also in Kenya, and urge the community to respect Kenyan law and refrain from cutting girls in the future.
Faiza Mohamed, Equality Now Nairobi Office Director
Lois Kaleke, Board Member of Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative
John Wainaina, Children’s Officer
Simon Simpai, Peer educator for Tasaru Ntomonok and Pastor
Wednesday 21 April 2010, at 9.30 am.
Tasaru Girls Rescue Centre, located along Narok-Nakuru road, immediately after Nakuru Girls school, 2.5 KM from Narok Town.
Sasiano Nchoe was a 12 year old Maasai girl who died on August 18, 2008, after undergoing female genital mutilation. Sasiano’s body was buried immediately after her death. It was after the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, became involved and alerted the authorities, that Sasiano’s body was exhumed and examined. Consequently, the circumciser, Nalangu Ole Sekut, and Sasiano’s father, Kantet Ole Nchoe, were charged with manslaughter pursuant to sections 202 and 205 of the Kenyan Penal Code. The act committed is a criminal offence as provided in Section 14 of the Children’s Act of 2001, which explicitly states that no person shall subject a child to FGM. On April 1, 2010 the accused appeared before the Narok Court and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. They were each sentenced to ten years imprisonment. “This is a noteworthy moment in the anti-FGM movement in Kenya, because the proper enforcement of the Children’s Act is finally moving in the direction of protecting Kenyan girls from grievous harm and even death notes Agnes Pareyio, Founder of the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative.
During the course of the trial the accused absconded from court and the police was reluctant to arrest them which delayed the completion of the trial. It was after Equality Now brought this failure of the police department to the attention of the Commissioner of Police that the Narok police arrested the accused. Faiza Jama Mohamed, Equality Now’s Nairobi Office Director says, “This a great first step for the Narok police department in upholding the law and taking action on an FGM case. The department must continue to be pro-active in prevention, investigation, and follow-up on FGM cases in the region. Consistent legal action is the biggest deterrent that will stop the community from practicing FGM.”
The recent Kenya Demographic and Health survey estimates indicate that the prevalence rate in the Rift Valley is 32%, and at 27% nationwide with wide variations within FGM-practicing communities. While the practice seems to be decreasing in urban areas it continues to be a common occurrence in rural areas, the local leaders who should be fully engaged in the campaign to eradicate FGM some of them are among those who support the continuation of the practice and cover-up for the perpetrators as seen in this case.
Only if authorities take strong and consistent action against violators and potential violators of the FGM law, will communities abandon the practice. They need to send parents and circumcisers a loud and clear message that such blatant disregard for the law will not be tolerated and that the protection of girls against this practice is taken very seriously.
FGM is a harmful traditional practice that entails partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female organs for non-medical reasons. More than 130 million girls and women around the world are estimated to have undergone FGM. At least 2 million girls every year – 6,000 each day – are at risk of FGM which is a fundamental human rights violation of women and girls.