Kenya: Press release Kibaki's Consent to the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Bill

"Coast Women in Development congratulates our president Mwai Kibaki for signing into law the FGM Bill that was submitted to parliament by Mt. Elgon MP Fred Kapondi. The Female Genital Mutilation Bill 2011 which was accepted to on 8th September 2011 now creates an act of parliament that prohibits the practice of female genital mutilation and safeguards against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice of female genital mutilation.

According to the 2003 Kenyan Demographic Health Survey (KDHS), 32% of all Kenyan women aged between 15 and 49 years are circumcised. In 1998 the KDHS recorded a figure of 38%. A higher proportion of rural women (36%) than urban women (21%) have also been circumcised. North Eastern Province, included in the 2003 KDHS, has the largest proportion of women circumcised (99%)

FGM are today performed by trained medical staff in hospitals. Although this trend might reduce the immediate pain or risk of infection, it does not prevent long-term complications or psychological trauma. FGM must be seen as representing a danger to women’s health as well as a violation of human rights. The medicalisation of the practice is not acceptable.

CWID however feels the Kenya parliament has taken too long to act on the bill since it had ratified various international conventions on the rights of women and children, it has also adopted the recommendations on the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing (1995) which cited FGM as both a threat to women’s reproductive health and a violation of their human rights. Kenya is also a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990), the African Charter on the Rights andWelfare of the Child (1990) and of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, “Maputo Protocol” (2003).

Nationally in November 1999, the Ministry of Health launched the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of FGM in order to reduce the proportion of girls, women and families that will be affected over the next twenty years. In 2001 the Children’s Act was enacted, which describes girls who are likely to be forced into circumcision as children in need of special care and protection. The act further provides for courts to take action against the perpetrators. The Kenyan Constitution also provides for the fundamental rights and freedoms for all citizens and therefore it is good to note that they have finally passed the bill.

Now we are confident the Kenyan women will enjoy their reproductive rights at their reproductive age"

Coast Women In Development.