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The ‘BRAVE’ deradicalization of the Kenyans

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Nairobi, Kenya: The proliferation of extremist groups around the African continent have taken the sleep away of the security personnel around the world. While there have been discussions and debates going on how to tackle this upsurge of violence, one organization in Kenya has taken the responsibility to aid the youths and elders of Kenya back into the right path again.

The organization is known as Building Resilience against Violence Extremism or simply as BRAVE. It works to counter the effects of the radical principles that can trap the minds of the vulnerable youths and also of the Clerics and Imams.

Over 2000 young Kenyans have registered themselves for the program, some of them are sent on court order while others have signed up on their own. There is a program which is run for four days and admits especially clerics and Imams into it. The sessions help them learn to counter the message of the radicals.

So far, BRAVE has trained about 150 clerics and Imams. One of them is Imam Aizadin Omar, he has been related to a mosque, at the outskirts of Nairobi, for 5 years now. One which has been reported in a 2013 UN report which linked one of its officials to terrorist funding.

Omar says that the program has helped him to detect and counter extremist leanings in his community. He also adds that before the youths can be deradicalized, one has to go step by step, then there are adults as well who are deeply radicalized and changing them back is quite hard.

According to the founder of BRAVE, Mustafa Alai, some are still staying away as there works a fear of reprisal. He states that: “Many Kenyans, particularly the Muslims have been intimidated by the violent extremist groups to such an extent that they don’t to talk about violent extremism or else of terrorism. Specially the intimidation is highly intense in places like Mandera and north-eastern Kenya”.

Whereas, the experts say that the root causes like unemployment should also be addressed.

Andrew Franklin, a security analyst, is of the opinion that that the deradicalizing programs only deals with the symptoms rather than the causes of the problem. He asks that question regarding exactly what cause people, especially youths to get such attachments to violence, from being alienated to being marginalized, to picking up of weapons. In other words, becoming radicalized, to going off to fight and join these terrorist groups. (The news is brought to you by NewsGram in association with VOA.

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No More Schoolgirls Examined For Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya

We are not going to line up all the girls and test them — you can't do that as they can be stigmatized

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FILE - A T-shirt warns against female genital mutilation. Its wearer attends an event, discouraging harmful practices such as FGM, at a girls high school in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

No schoolgirls in western Kenya are being forced to undergo examinations for female genital mutilation, Kenyan authorities said Tuesday, after a government official sparked outrage by proposing compulsory tests to curb the crime.

George Natembeya, commissioner for Narok County, said on Friday that girls returning to school after the Christmas break were being screened for female genital mutilation (FGM) in order to prosecute their parents and traditional cutters.

Rights groups condemned the move, saying examining the girls — aged between nine and 17 — was demeaning and contravened their right to privacy and dignity.

FGM, Kenya
Maasai girls and a man watch a video on a mobile phone prior to the start of a social event advocating against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya. VOA

Kenya’s Anti-FGM Board said they had conducted an investigation in Narok after Natembeya’s statement and found no evidence of girls being tested.

“The Board hereby confirms that no girl has been paraded for FGM screening as per allegations that have been circulating in the last few days,” the semi-autonomous government agency said in a statement.

“The Board recognises and appreciates the role played by different stakeholders in complementing the government’s efforts in the FGM campaigns but we want to reiterate that all interventions must uphold the law.”

FGM, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, is prevalent across parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East — and is seen as necessary for social acceptance and increasing a girl’s marriage prospects.

FGM, Kenya
KAMELI, KENYA – AUGUST 12: A Masaai villager displays the traditional blade used to circumcise young girls August 12, 2007 in Kameli, Kenya. VOA

FGM dangers

It is usually performed by traditional cutters, often with unsterilized blades or knives. In some cases, girls can bleed to death or die from infections. It can also cause lifelong painful conditions such as fistula and fatal childbirth complications.

Kenya criminalized FGM in 2011, but the deep-rooted practice persists. According to the United Nations, one in five Kenyan women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM.

Natembeya said he had announced the compulsory tests to warn communities not to practice FGM on their daughters, but that there was no intention to force all girls to undergo screening.

Rights groups said the policy was rolled back following outrage.

Also Read: The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

“We are not going to line up all the girls and test them — you can’t do that as they can be stigmatized,” he told Reuters.

“What we are doing is that if we get reports from schools that a girl has undergone FGM, it becomes a police case and the girl is taken to hospital and medically examined. Then the parents or caregivers will be arrested and taken to court.” (VOA)