By Kevin Anyonge
A three day conference that brought together various stakeholders and partners in the country’s capital Nairobi,Kenya,an event held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) drew to a close today.
The Anti-FGM Board saw it better to have it’s first Conference in an effort to fight and end FGM in line with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM which is marked on 6th February each year.
The government of Kenya recognizes that FGM and other retrogressive cultural practices that violate the rights of girls and women should be eradicated.Remarkable gains have been made by the government and partners in the campaigns against FGM in Kenya since the enactment of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act in 2011 and subsequent establishment of the Anti-FGM Board.
This years conference was graced by different representatives from the counties and National Government where every speaker gave remarks geared towards ending Female Genital Mutilation.
The Anti-FGM Board chief executive officer Mrs. Bernadette Loloju in her speech said “As we celebrate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM this February,we will focus more on the partnerships needed to make a difference in the campaign against the practice.There is therefore need to build bridges between the different stakeholders who include National and County Governments,community elders,religious leaders,state and non-state actors among others.Elimination of FGM can be accelerated by building partnerships and building bridges.”
This year’s theme for the first FGM conference was “Ending FGM is a political decision-building bridges for elimination of FGM in Kenya”.It centered around politics for the reason that quite a number of politicians and influential individuals in the community tend to go mum about fighting FGM,because they see it as a basket of votes during an electioneering period.
Mrs. Loloju further said that “Kenya has not been left behind in efforts geared towards the eradication of this practice.The enactment of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act No. 32 of 2011 has provided a legal framework for the elimination of FGM in the country.The Act provided for the establishment of the Anti-FGM Board to champion,spearhead and coordinate campaigns against the practice.The board begun its operations in 2014 and has had a focus in the whole country but specifically on 20 counties with high FGM prevalence rates referred to as ‘hotspots’.
Female Genital Mutilation violates the rights of women and girls to:Health,Security and Physical Integrity;being free from torture and cruel,inhuman or degrading treatment;and right to life when the procedure results in death.it also contributes to the disempowerment of girls and women.
Together to end Female Genital Mutilation,Rev. Connie Kivuti,Board Director Anti-FGM Board message during the conference was “To promote the abandonment of FGM,coordinated and systematic efforts are needed,and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality.These efforts should emphasize societal dialogue and the empowerment of communities to act collectively to end the practice. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences is a violation of human rights of girls and women”.
However fighting an end to Female Genital Mutilation has received a backlash that has seen campaigns being faced with a number of challenges including;medicalization of FGM,resistance to the campaigns by a number of communities,cross-border practice of FGM,and the reduced age at which girls are being cut,secretly and unwillingness by witnesses to testify against perpetrators of FGM among others.
Rev. Connie Kivuti further said that “The government is working with stakeholders to address these challenges and build on the gains.The ratification of a number of global conventions,the enactment of legislations and development of policies have continued to inform the successful programmes aimed at the eradication of FGM in the country.”
Female Genital Mutilation Cases being reported have received collaborative efforts of police,provincial administration,office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the departments of children services,culture,probation,gender and social development that have seen over 200 people being charged in court with either practicing or abetting FGM in various parts of the country.Scores have been sentenced for up to five years imprisonment and fined heftily for the offence of female genital mutilation.
The 2015,Sustainable Development Goals calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under goal five (5) on Gender Equality,Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices such as child,early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.The government of Kenya is focused on eliminating FGM by 2030,by having policies,strategies and laws in place.According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS),Female Genital Mutilation has been on a reducing trend from 27% in 2009 to 21% in 2014.This is among the highest drop in national FGM prevalence rates recorded in the world in the recent past.
Kevin Anyonge is a Producer and Writer at Mtoto News
Mtoto News is an online platform of news, information and resources that aims at making significant change in the lives of children by making them visible. Read mtotonews.com or follow us on twitter and Facebook @mtotonews