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Over alleged involvement in human trafficking on August 8 in Tiaty, a constituency in Baringo County in Kenya, Pastor David Kimeu and Judy Seguton were arrested and accused of being involved in human trafficking, despite their work to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

David Kimeu is a pastor and full-time missionary with the Africa Inland Church Mission Department.

He has dedicated time to rescuing girls from FGM and forced marriage. Kenyan radio station, Radio Jamba, reports that he had prevented 16 girls from having the invasive practice done to them but that he was accused of withholding them.

Kimeu told International Christian Concern: “We were getting ready to take 16 girls for a three-day Alternative Rites of Passage camp when security officers surrounded our home, claiming that the girls were kidnapped, and we were summoned to the local police headquarters for questioning. All the girls were separated and asked to write statements about what was going on in our home.”

On 9th August, Pastor David appeared before the Tiaty magistrate to answer questions about charges of human trafficking and the unlawful operation of a rescue center.

Of this, he said: The files of the 16 girls presented before the magistrate by the prosecutor were read and a determination made. My wife and I were cleared of the charges because the girls indicated that they had taken refuge in our home for fear of being circumcised and married off to old men before they could finish their studies so that their parents can receive huge amounts of cattle dowry payment … Consequently, the girls have been separated from us and taken for custody in other orphanages and rescue shelters.”

Many communities in Kenya still practice female genital mutilation, despite knowing the potentially life-threatening medical problems it can cause. The Church in Kenya has since been at the forefront of advocacy efforts to stop this practice that hinders young girls from pursuing their dreams after being forced to marry older men. Rescue shelters have been opened to protect, counsel, and empower girls who have been mutilated or escaped mutilation.

Pastor David said their opposition was linked to what they were doing: “We have always met resistance because of our efforts to curb female genital mutilation rite of passage in this community and the allegations of human trafficking leveled against my wife and I are malicious and uncalled for…We fear for our lives because the same people that called the police to arrest us are threatening to destroy our home, church, and the school we opened for the community.

“We have repeatedly faced death threats from known and unknown people and the local chief and police have taken no action. In May, my wife was confronted by armed men who threatened to stop interfering with the girls in the villages. We need your prayers and encouragement as we continue with the Lord’s work in Tiaty.”

The Kenyan parliament passed the Female Genital Mutilation Act in 2011, stating that violators will be punished with up to three years in prison for FGM and life imprisonment in cases that result in death.

By Ololade Olatimehin

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