By Ruth Owino
Approximately 28 percent of women in Kenya have undergone FGM, with the highest numbers being recorded among the Somalis and Kisii communities. The practice rates 98 percent among the Somalis, 96 percent among the Kisii, 73 percent among the Maasai and 48 percent among the Kalenjins. FGM is still a cultural practice these communities are not ready to abandon.
The Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) 2008/2009, however, indicated that FGM appears to be declining with overall prevalence reducing from 38 percent in 1998, 32 percent in 2003 to 27 percent in 2008 among women aged 15-49, a decline in the practice has been accredited to increased levels of education in the communities involved.
On 30th September 2001, President Kibaki signed into law the FGM Bill. The bill now creates an act of parliament that prohibits the practice of female genital mutilation, safeguards against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice of female genital mutilation and for connected purposes. Meaning, FGM is now a crime in Kenya and those found conducting it will serve up to 7 years in prison and fines of up to Sh500, 000. Moreover, anyone who causes death in the process of carrying out FGM will be liable to life imprisonment.
The new law seeks to prohibit the practice safeguard against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice and for connected purposes. Kenya now follows a number of African governments that have outlawed the practice.