Sang'ach traditional dancers from Sigor in Central Pokot District during an anti-Female Genital Mutilation campaign. PHOTO / JARED NYATAYA
Kenya tops the list of 15 sub-Saharan countries that have drastically reduced cases of female circumcision, says a UN report.
The incidence of female circumcision fell by nearly 16 per cent in the country between 2003 and 2009, the United Nations Population Fund says in the report released on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting on Monday.
The survey also found that younger women in Kenya were abandoning the practice at a faster rate than those in the same age group in the 14 other countries taking part in a UN-sponsored anti-cutting programme.
There is now a 25 percentage point differential in prevalence of the practice between Kenyans aged 15-19 and Kenyans aged 40-44, says the report.
“These encouraging findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women,” says UN Population Fund director Babatunde Osotimehin.
The report attributed the decline in the number of women undergoing circumcision to sustained public campaigns against the practice, the adoption of the FGM Bill last year and the public renunciation of female cutting by communities that have hitherto practised female circumcision such as the Ilchamus and the Pokot.
President Kibaki signed the anti-FGM Bill into law in September last year.
The law prohibits the practice, safeguards against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice of female circurmcision.
Those found conducting the practice are liable to serve up to seven years in prison and fines of up to Sh500,000.
Furthermore, anyone who causes death in the process of carrying out female circumcision is liable to life imprisonment.
The law even prohibits derogatory remarks about women who have not been circumcised. Offenders may be jailed or fined or both.
By Kevin J Kelley