However, FGM remains as a deeply entrenched practice in some areas and continues to affect the lives of millions of women and girls. Though FGM is not a religious requirement, many communities have strong beliefs that it is - a myth 28 Too Many are keen to dispel.
Progress is being made in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya, confirms a new report by charity 28 Too Many which shows a significant drop in prevalence over the last ten years. However, FGM remains as a deeply entrenched practice in some areas and continues to affect the lives of millions of women and girls. Though FGM is not a religious requirement, many communities have strong beliefs that it is - a myth 28 Too Many are keen to dispel.
The new report is a summary of the current situation regarding FGM in Kenya and provides an accurate basis from which future change can be measured.
The report shows a dramatic decrease in the number of girls who are cut when they have received secondary level education - 54% of girls with no education are victims of FGM, which reduces to 19% for girls who have reached secondary school.
28 Too Many founder and Executive Director, Dr Ann-Marie Wilson spoke of her experience with communities practicing FGM, “When I visited a Massai community in 2011, I met two women who, as young girls, were educated at school about the dangers of FGM. When they were aged ten and twelve, they found out they were going to be cut, and so they ran away. After being reunited with their parents, they continued their education without fear of FGM. Now a teacher and a health worker, the women have taught their community about FGM and have seen the practice abandoned. No girls have been cut in their village for more than seven years.”
“This is how change can happen. Our research shows that, with the right support and interventions, FGM can be reduced and eventually eradicated from Kenya but it requires strong leadership, long term action plans and sustained funding. If this happens there is a good reason to hope that future generations of Kenyan girls and women will live free from FGM.”
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Notes to the editor:
Across Kenya FGM in 15-49 year olds has reduced from 37.6% (1998) to 32.2% (2003) to 27.1% (2008-9). This is measurable progress and around 10% over 10 years.
The areas/ethnic groups where FGM is most common are:
Of the two ethnic groups with the highest rate of prevalence one is predominantly Muslim (Somali) and the other is mostly Christian (Kisii). Although FGM is not a religious requirement, in some communities there is a strong belief that it is (eg. 86.5% of cut women in the Somali community).
In FGM practising communities education of girls is key to reducing FGM prevalence; 53.7% of girls with no education are cut and this reduces to 19.3% for girls who receive secondary level education.
Following the Anti-FGM Act 2011, Kenya now has more robust legislation against FGM but so far there have been only 3 successful prosecutions under this Act (Attorney General’s Office 2013).
There are more than 157 organisations campaigning to end FGM in Kenya and working to support women/girls affected by FGM using a variety of approaches. The different interventions are often isolated and uncoordinated which makes assessing their impact difficult.
The full Country Profile can be downloaded at http://28toomany.org/countries/kenya/
28 Too Many is a charity working to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Our primary focus is on research and enabling local initiatives to end FGM in the 28 African countries where it is practised and across the diaspora. We also network and advocate for the global eradication of FGM, working closely with other charities/NGOs in the violence against women sector.