Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the removal of the external female genitalia totally or partially for non-medical reasons. Over the past years in Kenya, this culture has been practised by various tribes, including the Kisii, Meru, Somalis, Nubians and Kuria. They do this as a marriage prerequisite to ensure a girl’s future marriage and honour.
FGM IN KENYA
It is so said that one in every five women aged between 15 and 49 in Kenya has undergone FGM. Globally, the statistics lie that 200 million girls and women have experienced FGM. Nevertheless, this cultural practice has been greatly discouraged, and therefore most communities have abolished it over the last decades. Even though the practice has not been stopped completely, it is without a doubt that we are headed there as a country and the world at large. The prohibition of FGM in Kenya was enforced on the 4th of October, 2011. Part IV of this Act criminalizes FGM and states that if FGM is carried out and causes death, the perpetrator will be imprisoned for life. It also criminalizes a person who takes another person inside or outside Kenya to perform FGM on her and also those who aid the practice.
HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH FGM
A number of dangers associated with FGM have been recorded. The major ones are below:
- FGM causes severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts and infections; later on, it causes complicated childbirths and even deaths of newborns.
- Psychologically, women and girls who have gone through this awful cultural practice often show symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and mood disorders. The psychological stress of the procedure may trigger behavioural disturbance for those who have undergone it.
- It may also cause bacterial and viral infections since most of these practices are not done in a hospital setup.
- It has been reported many times to cause death for those who have been subjected to this cultural practice.
FGM is a gender-based violence and a total violation of human rights in girls and women as it is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15. As such, it is usually performed without permission and against the will; it, therefore, violates a girl’s rights in making important decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Kenya is trying to end FGM in various ways, such as raising awareness, conducting FGM safeguarding education and supporting the frontline activists. The World Health Organization (WHO) is opposed to all types of FGM. In Kenya, the rate of FGM practice has greatly reduced over the years, and we hope that all communities still involved in such practices will abolish it.