Approachable, understanding and trustworthy, Tomin Nelson, Community Development Officer (CDO) is one of the leaders in Kween district who strongly oppose FGM and Early Child Marriage. He says his fight was initially met with resistance, with many people in the community being critical of his actions and assuming it was a form of cultural eradication.
“In 2018, the situation was alarming but now the situation is beginning to progressively change” he said. “More people are speaking out against FGM in the community because of the continuous trainings held. FGM is a barbaric act that leaves girls scarred for life (emotionally and physically), it opens up a portal to other challenges like low self esteem and low sexual pleasure that leads to polygamy in the long run.”
Riding his motorcycle within the different sub counties Tomin says he was motivated to start confronting FGM in his community when was faced with the decision in his own marriage. Even though he couldn’t prevent it from happening to his wife, he vowed to help other women and girls not suffer the same fate. He did not want his daughters to go through the same thing.
He has been involved in rallying women and girls to actively advocate against FGM for themselves instead of solely relying on their leaders only. “Women have a more accurate standpoint on issues affecting them better than the leaders.” He also participates in trainings of young women and girls that empower them through collectively organising and auctioning them to construct new norms that challenge FGM and CEFM and encourages parents to send their children to school.
“Girls and boys are beginning to understand their rights,” he added. “More schools within the district should be constructed and they should have scholarship programs for girls as an incentive. If that is done, we will be able to see significant change by 2022.”
Together with Kween Local Government, NAWOU under the “Catalysing a New Generation of Activists to Challenge Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), Child and Forced Marriage (CEFM)” project with funding from Womankind Worldwide are empowering girls and young women to develop their own campaigns and initiatives to challenge the harmful cultural practice in Kaptum and Binyiny sub-counties.