OPINION: FGM is a serious cultural, health problem that must be stopped


A Pokot girl cries after being circumcised in a village about 80 kilometers from the town ...
A Pokot girl cries after being circumcised in a village about 80 kilometers from the town of Marigat in Baringo county, October 16, 2014. /REUTERS

In Summary

  • Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya has witnessed an increase physical and gender based violence (GBV) for both men and women.
  • There has also been a significant increase in cases of FGM during the pandemic period especially when schools and shelters were closed down.
  • These institutions serve as safe spaces for the girls to keep them away from FGM and other acts of physical and sexual violence.

By Alvin Mwangi

Girls and women should be protected from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a horrific practice that results in mental and physical pain and trauma.

Also Read: Coronavirus threatens Kenya goal to end FGM by 2022

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, 21% of girls and women aged 15-49 have been circumcised.

Numerous studies have shown that FGM reduces the bargaining power of girls to remain in school as the cut is seen as a sort of preparation for marriage.

Young girls lose their self esteem and sometimes even their lives when they undergo the cut which is a violation of children and women’s rights.

FGM has the potential to cause serious medical complications.

In most communities that still practice FGM, the cut is done by traditional circumcisers while in some cases, where modern medicine is embraced, health personnel are involved.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya has witnessed an increase physical and gender based violence (GBV) for both men and women.

There has also been a significant increase in cases of FGM during the pandemic period especially when schools and shelters were closed down.

These institutions serve as safe spaces for the girls to keep them away from FGM and other acts of physical and sexual violence.

Also Read: 22 women jailed for undergoing FGM in Kericho

In the rural areas where FGM is rampant, young girls lack adequate support systems: access to safe spaces, access to adequate justice and access to psycho-social support.

With regards to the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Kenya committed to end FGM by strengthening coordination in the area of legislation and policy framework, communication and advocacy, evidence generation and support cross border collaboration on elimination by 2022.

FGM, a serious cultural and health problem, can be stopped.

Police, prosecutors and other actors in the justice sector should protect our girls and women by effecting arrests, conducting proper investigations and prosecuting perpetrators.

Alvin Mwangi is an advocate for sexual and reproductive health in Nairobi, Kenya

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