Kenya tops drive against FGM

Friday February 10 2012

By Kevin J. Kelly

Kenya tops the list of 15 sub-Saharan countries that have drastically reduced cases of female circumcision, a UN report says.

The incidence of female circumcision fell by nearly 16 per cent in the country between 2003 and 2009, the UN Population Fund says in the report released on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting on Monday.

The survey also found that younger women in Kenya were abandoning the practice at a faster rate than those in the same age group in the 14 other countries taking part in a UN-sponsored anti-cutting programme.

“These findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women,” says UN Population Fund director Babatunde Osotimehin.

The report attributed the decline in the number of women undergoing circumcision to sustained public campaigns against FGM, the passing of the FGM Bill last year and the public renunciation of female cutting by communities that have hitherto practised it such as the Ilchamus and the Pokot.

President Kibaki signed the anti-FGM Bill into law in September last year. The law prohibits the practice, safeguards against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice of FGM.

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Those found conducting the practice are liable to serve up to seven years in prison and fines of up to KShs500,000 (Shs14 million).

Furthermore, anyone who causes death in the process of carrying out female circumcision is liable to life imprisonment.

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