Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a deep rooted traditional practise found in many parts of the world but more pronounced in Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM/C is practised in 28 out of 52 countries in Sub Sahara Africa where the practice ranges from a low of 5% to a high of 98%. It is estimated that as least 3 million women and girls are at risk of FGM/C each year and that 140 million women have undergone some type of FGM/C worldwide. The age at which the procedure is carried out varies from 0-20 years or as late as just before marriage or after the first pregnancy. The procedure of FGM/C vary from culture to culture wih the severity often depending on how much genital tissue is cut out.
In Kenya, FGM/C is practised widely by many communities. The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2008/9 indicated that 27.1% of women surveyed were circumsed, a decline from 32% in 2003. The KDHS also indicated a higher propotion of rural women (30.6%) compared to urban (16.5%) that have been circumcised. North Eastern region of Kenya has the highest proportion of circumcised women at 97.5%.
FGM/C denies girls and women their Constitutional Rights as in Section 44(3) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 which states that no person shall compel another to undertake cultural practises or rites that are deemed harmful. Further, FGM/C is contrary to the Children's Act CAP 141 which defines harmful cultural practises like FGM/C as child abuse. FGM/C also gives to another abuse of girls as expressed in the Sexual Offences Act 2006 and is contrary to the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011.
The gender equality programme is supported by the GOK/UNFPA/UNICEF. It is the 7th Country Programme whose expected United Nations Develoment Assistance Framework (UNDAF) outcome is strengthened institutional and legal frameworks and process that support democratic governance, transformation, accountability, respect for human rights and gender equality.
The programme is anchored on outcome 5 whose goal is to contribute to gender equality and reproductive rights advanced particulalry through advocacy and implementation of laws and policy, in line with the ICPD agenda, MDG 5 (A and B) and Vision 2030.
It is currently implemented in Samburu, Baringo, Mt. Elgon, West Pokot, Kuria, Migori, Moyale, Isiolo, Garissa, Meru and TanaRiver. It is involved in:
- Supporting the promotion of gender equality through advocacy and community involvement including participation of males.
- Supporting activities aimed at enactment of laws that address harmful practices particularly FGM/C and early marriage.
- Scaling up sensitization of community leaders on the need to abandon FGM/C and early marriage
- Support Alternative Rites of Passage (ARP) for selected districts.
Click the link below to watch the FGM Video sang by Mtunasi, a youth from Mt. Elgon FGM network. The video was produced with support from UNFPA.