FGM

Kenya: Protect girls by enforcing FGM and child marriage laws

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Oct 10
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

31 JULY 2014 UPDATE: In the last seven months, Equality Now and our partners have been greatly encouraged by improved efforts to investigate and enforce Kenya’s 2011 Anti-FGM law and by the increased coverage of the issue in the Kenyan press. In April, the Director of Public Prosecutions created a 20 member Anti-FGM prosecution unit to track cases, educate communities about the law and accelerate prosecutions, particularly in high prevalence areas. Within its first few weeks, the unit brought several cases to court involving parents, circumcisers and a chief who failed to report FGM. The unit hopes that its investigations, prosecutions and community awareness-raising efforts will act as a deterrent to the practice. Additionally, local governments are increasingly receptive to working with civil society organizations to address the issue.

On the national level, Kenyan Parliament members were asked to bring forward a motion to increase penalties for FGM and to thoroughly review existing FGM cases, following a June protest in Kajiado (traditional home of the Maasai) where demonstrators called for the repeal of the FGM law. Kenyan legislators swiftly condemned the protest and re-iterated that violators would be prosecuted. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has also publicly called for Kenya to “achieve zero FGM status.” While there is still extensive work to be done to end FGM in Kenya, these progressive developments and the work of the Anti-FGM Board are showing increased political will to protect girls and women from FGM, locally and nationally. We will continue to update you as the campaign progresses and we thank you for your continued support.


UPDATE 30 JANUARY 2014: Between November and December 2013, Equality Now supported our Kenyan partner Women Rights Institute for Peace in providing shelter to 45 runaway girls at the Sandai rescue centre in Baringo. Happily, the girls are safe and have returned back to school. However, until protective measures are put in place, particularly during FGM mass mutilation seasons, girls in at-risk communities will remain in danger.

In response to advocacy, the Kenyan government took a positive step forward by creating an Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board and appointing the Honourable Linah Jebii Kilimo as Chairperson in December 2013. Hon. Kilimo was instrumental in passing Kenya’s Anti-FGM Bill in 2011 and has been actively working with governmental and non-governmental organizations to eradicate FGM. Equality Now and our partners welcome these developments and urge the government to work closely with the Anti-FGM Board to fulfill its mandate as described in the Prohibition of FGM Act of 2011 (Section 5).

Please continue to call on  Kenyan national and local governments, authorities and the Anti-FGM Board to work together to protect girls by: enforcing laws against FGM and child marriage, educating the public on the harms of these human rights violations, and supporting girls escaping FGM and child marriage.

Thank you for your support.


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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now and our partners WRIP and TNI in calling on the national government of Kenya and the local government in Pokot to take urgent action in accordance with Kenya’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • Immediate steps are taken to protect, and provide support and shelter to, girls escaping FGM and child marriage and to ensure that at-risk girls are not subjected to FGM at any time and in particular during the school holidays.
  • Laws against FGM and child marriage are effectively implemented with proper investigation and prosecution of violations.
  • All concerned national and local level authorities work together to put into place protective measures within at-risk communities to protect girls from both child marriage and FGM, and to ensure that they are able to continue their education.
  • Awareness-raising and education campaigns are conducted to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and child marriage and acknowledging the practices as human rights violations with harmful consequences.

Letters should go to:

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta
President of the Republic of Kenya
P.O. Box 30040
Nairobi, Kenya
Email: contact@statehousekenya.go.ke or president@statehousekenya.go.ke

H.E. Ms Anne Waiguru        
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Devolution and Planning
P. O. Box 30005 - 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254 20 2218475
Email: info@devolutionplanning.go.ke

Hon. Prof Githu Muigai., M.P.
Attorney General
Department of Justice, National Cohesion and
Constitutional Affairs
Harambee Avenue
P.O Box 40112-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254 20 315105
Email: info@justice.go.ke

H.E. Dr. Richard Belio Kipsang,
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Education, Science &Technology
Jogoo House B
Harambee Avenue
P.O. Box 30040
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254 20 214 287

Benjamin C Cheboi
Baringo County Governor
P.O Box 53-30400,
Kabarenet, Kenya
Email: governor@baringocounty.go.ke

Simon Kitalei Kachapin
West-Pokot County Governor
PO Box 1 - 30600,
Kapenguria, Kenya
Email: info@westpokot.go.ke

With a copy to: The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, Email: info@kewopa.org

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Governor,

Following reports of Kenyan girls running away from female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, especially during the August and December holidays in the Pokot region, I am deeply concerned about the Kenyan government’s lack of enforcement of its laws against FGM and child marriage.

The Pokot government needs to work within communities to protect and support girls and enforce laws to make sure violations are adequately addressed.

FGM and child marriage are human rights violations and have a host of negative physical and psychological implications for girls and women. Kenya is a party to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which requires State parties to prohibit both FGM and child marriage and to ensure “protection of women who are at risk of being subjected to harmful practices.” Kenya has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and both the Committees associated with these treaties have called for an end to FGM and child marriage. The Kenyan constitution as well as Kenyan laws such as the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011 and the Children’s Act 2001, ban FGM and child marriage.

I commend the government of Kenya for putting in place legislation on FGM and child marriage and for creating the Anti-FGM Board as important steps toward protecting the rights of Kenyan girls and women. However, despite frequent reports about cases of FGM and child marriage being carried out and girls escaping to avoid these practices, there have been no known investigations or prosecutions to date in the Pokot region, and the government has taken no steps to protect the girls who are running away to avoid being violated. I urge the national government of Kenya and the local government in Pokot to take urgent action in accordance with Kenya’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • Immediate steps are taken to protect, and provide support and shelter to, girls escaping FGM and child marriage and to ensure that at-risk girls are not subjected to FGM at any time and in particular during the school holidays.
  • Laws against FGM and child marriage are effectively implemented with proper investigation and prosecution of violations.
  • All concerned national and local level authorities work together to put into place protective measures within at-risk communities to protect girls from both child marriage and FGM, and to ensure that they are able to continue their education.
  • Awareness-raising and education campaigns are conducted to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and child marriage and to acknowledging them as human rights violations with harmful consequences.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

U.N. pressures Indonesia to stop health workers performing FGM (Thomson Reuters)

8/12/2013 -- Thomson Reuters -- "U.N. pressures Indonesia to stop health workers performing FGM"; Efua Dorkenoo, advocacy director of Equality Now’s FGM programme, on the “medicalisation” of FGM.

Is the End in Sight for Female Genital Mutilation? (National Geographic)

7/26/2013 -- National Geographic -- "Is the End in Sight for Female Genital Mutilation?" National Geographic speaks with Equality Now's Efua Dorkenoo about the struggle to end FGM:

Anti-FGM Rally Held in London (Sky News)

7/20/2013 -- Sky News -- "Female Genital Mutilation: Campaigners' Rally"; Campaigners against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) rally in Trafalgar Square to highlight the issue of girls being taken abroad to be 'cut' during the summer holidays.

Egypt: Enforce FGM law & prosecute those responsible for Soheir al-Batea’s death

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Jul 2

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now and our partners CEWLA and the ECCR in calling on the government of Egypt to live up to its domestic and international obligations by:

  • Effectively enforcing its 2008 FGM law by properly investigating and fully prosecuting violations and in particular ensuring that the doctor who performed the procedure and Soheir’s father are both prosecuted for FGM and manslaughter and punished to the full extent of the law
  • Supporting and enhancing community education to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with harmful consequences
  • Ensuring that health care providers are given comprehensive education and training on the health and human rights implications of FGM and refrain from performing any form of the practice

Letters should go to:

Interim President Adly Mansour
El Etahadiya Presidential Palace
Merghiny St., Heliopolis
Cairo, EGYPT
Fax & Tel.: +202 239 019 980
Twitter: @EgyPresidency

Prime Minister
Magless El Shaàb Street, Al Kasr El Einy
Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 2793 5000
Fax: +202 2795 8048
Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg

Minister of Justice
Lazoghly Square
Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 279 22263
Fax: +202 279 58103
Email: mjustice@moj.gov.eg

Minister of Health & Population
3 Magless El Shaàb Street, Al Kasr El Einy
Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 2795 1821
Fax: + 202 2795 3966
Email: webmaster@mohp.gov.eg

Letters: 

Dear President/Prime Minister/Minister,

I am writing to express my deep concern about the tragic death of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died after a doctor illegally performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on her at the behest of her father in a clinic in the Daqahliya Governorate, north-east of Cairo. Reportedly, Dr. Raslan Fadl who performed the procedure was interrogated by prosecutors and released on bail pending investigation. Soheir’s death tragically highlights FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women with serious health risks regardless of performance inside or outside a medical establishment.

FGM can have lifelong health consequences including chronic infection, severe pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth, and psychological trauma. No one knows how many girls die from FGM due to lack of proper documentation. According to the 2008 Demographic Health Survey in Egypt the prevalence rate of FGM among women and girls aged 15-49 is 91%.

I understand that since 2008, FGM is a criminal offence under the Egyptian penal code. Despite this ban, UNICEF reports that medicalization is on the rise in Egypt with an estimated 72% of procedures being performed by doctors in private clinics. I am deeply concerned at reports that the Ministry of Health is pushing for the police report on Soheir’s case to record the crime as “medical negligence” instead of as FGM and manslaughter. Without strong messages from the government, such as proper implementation of the law and swift punishment for the perpetrators, FGM may become more acceptable in Egypt, with women’s rights increasingly taking a back seat at all levels.

The World Health Organization (WHO), of which Egypt is a Member State, has consistently stated that “under no circumstances should FGM be performed by health professionals or in health establishments.” The World Health Assembly of the WHO passed a resolution in 2008 urging all member states to accelerate work towards the elimination of FGM, to enact and enforce legislation against the practice and to prohibit performance of FGM by any person including medical professionals.

Egypt is party to a number of international and regional human rights treaties that mandate the protection of women and girls from the practice of FGM, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Both the CEDAW Committee and the Committee on the Rights of the Child have exhorted Egypt to end the impunity for perpetrators of FGM and, following Soheir’s death, UNICEF and UNFPA released a joint statement urging “all relevant authorities to exert their outmost efforts to fully enforce the law.”

I would like to urge you to ensure that Egypt lives up to its domestic and international obligations by taking the following steps:

  • Effectively enforcing the 2008 FGM law by properly investigating and fully prosecuting violations and in particular ensuring that the doctor who performed the procedure and Soheir’s father are both prosecuted for FGM and manslaughter and punished to the full extent of the law
  • Supporting and enhancing community education to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and acknowledging FGM as a human rights violation with harmful consequences
  • Ensuring that health care providers are given comprehensive education and training on the health and human rights implications of FGM and refrain from performing any form of the practice

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Helpline launched in UK to protect girls from FGM (Guardian)

6/23/2013 -- The Guardian -- "NSPCC launches helpline to protect girls from female genital mutilation"; Efua Dorkenoo, Advocacy Director of FGM Programme, Equality Now:

Lawless Liberia: Legal Failure Renews Global Calls For Female Genital Cut Law (Front Page Africa)

6/3/2013 -- Front Page Africa -- “Lawless Liberia: Legal Failure Renews Global Calls For Female Genital Cut Law”; Advocacy Programme Director-FGM,  Efua Dorkenoo on renewed call for anti-FGM in Liberia and the case of Ruth Berry Peale:

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