The government has warned Garissa residents against bypassing the courts and settling gender-based violence, child marriage and FGM cases through traditional maslaha community ‘justice’.
Maslaha is an informal Islamic system to settle disputes and compensate victims of crimes, often by paying cash, camels, goats or other property.
This means victims of defilement or FGM, for example, do not get justice and culprits go free by paying off families.
Chief Administrative Secretary Linah Jebii Kilimo said on Wednesday gender-based violence and FGM are criminal offences violating human rights that should be handled by the police and Kenyan judicial system.
She was speaking at a Garissa hotel during a sensitisation session on FGM.
“I appeal to the council of elders in this region to engage maslaha courts in other dispute resolutions issues but keep off defilement, early marriage and rampant FGM cases,” Kilimo said.
“These should be exclusively handled by law enforcement officers and the courts,” she said.
The same applies to crimes such as murder, rape, grievous assault.
Garissa deputy county commissioner Bernard Ole Kipury said the government will act firmly against anyone using traditional informal systems to handle serious gender crimes.
“These are not cases to be solved by cows and goats at the expense of the victims. The government will take firm actions against the perpetrators,” Kipury said.
He said all chiefs in the county will be trained on handling FGM-related cases and will be rewarded based on their active engagement in eliminating the practice.
Garissa county launched action plan on Wednesday aimed at accelerating the elimination of FGM and gender cases. Messages will be conveyed through public gatherings, radio stations, mosques, churches and other mens.
The joint initiative by national government, Garissa county, the Anti-FGM Board, Womenkind Kenya and Unicef will tackle FGM and related practices.
Garissa Gender executive Zeinab Abdi Digale said the county will mobilise resources to implement the action plan and the minimum package for FGM-related cases.
“No mother in her right senses should allow her daughter to undergo such a painful experience. We will mobilise our resources in this fight until we eliminate this violation of women rights in Garissa,” Digale said.