By Domtila Chesang
Domtila Chesang anti-FGM campaigner bravely stood up on TV against FGM and continues to host radio shows despite threats.
Our media campaign is aimed at preventing Female Genital Mutilation from taking place during this Easter Holiday season. The project is still ongoing until the end of next week. In the already conducted campaign, we have utilized both local radio stations and national television.
On the TV we highlighted the increase of Female genital mutilation which has a direct link to child marriage.
This followed the case of one girl who was abducted for the purposes of child marriage and taken over to Uganda for the same as well as FGM. The people who were interviewed by Citizen TV include the county criminal investigative officer, the women representative for West Pokot, the survivor, and myself.
On the Kalya radio talk show, I talked about FGM, child marriages, teenage pregnancies, and other issues that affect girls during this period. I also talked about the role each member of the community has to play and reminded them that it is their responsibility to ensure that children are safe at home as they are at school.
The success of the media campaign
Our media project was very successful because the highlight of the issues led to the arrest and prosecution of two suspects. It also made it to the national news which appeared three times for two days.
The other perpetrators are still being sought after by the police and this has sent a very clear warning to other potential perpetrators. The radio talk show led to more girls reaching out to be rescued from FGM and child marriages. It also attracted other radio stations who reached out to record the stories as news features.
I faced threats and had to hide for my own safety. Some of the perpetrators once they realized I was involved in the case made it clear that they will fight back and I had to find an alternate way to keep safe. Also, this delayed the implementation of our radio talk shows until it is safe to bring the girls to the radio.
Strong messages that came out of the media project
Our women Representative made a very powerful call to the community, one of its kind for a political leader to speak on national TV condemning FGM and child marriages. The callers who called on the radio complained that the rate at which school girls are getting pregnant is hugely contributing to FGM and child marriages.
Unexpected Wins; Challenges
The girl who had been taken across the border for purposes of child marriage and eventually FGM received justice when her abductors were arrested and arraigned in court. She is free to continue with her education and has been put in our custody. I also had to be very careful and prefer to carry out the remaining shows during the day compared to normal evening shows.
The radio stations agreed to continue actively advocating against FGM and since then they have been playing our jingles.