Trial case against Female Genital Mutilation

16 young women have brought a trial case in the courts of Kenya against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), in which the clitoris and vaginal vulva of girls is surgically removed so that when they reach adulthood, they will feel no sexual pleasure and, it is believed, will be disinclined to “act as whores”.

So goes the traditional belief, in which the woman’s duty is to work the fields, bear, and bring up, children. Common are the statements in rural areas in Africa about the fact that if woman begin to have orgasms, they will start sleeping with every man they see.

16 Kenyan girls have taken their cause to the court of Marakwet, asking to be protected against the wishes of their families, who want them to have the ritual “female circumcision”. Two human rights organisations helped the girls to present their case, The Centre for Human Rights and for Democracy (CHRD) and the women’s rights group, Equality Now.

In their case, the girls are asking for a judicial order to stop their families from forcing them to be submitted to FGM. A provisory prohibition was issued but the court still has to make its final decision.

The group of girls, aged between 12 and 16, fled their homes in Marakwet and Eldoret before the ritual and took refuge in the World Vision organization headquarters, where a coming-of-age ceremony was performed to substitute the traditional FGM ceremony. Returned to their homes, their families insisted that they be submitted to “the cut” as the girls call it, and they ran away again, this time to the CHRD centre.

Female Genital Mutilation has been responsible, at worst, for many deaths through haemorrhage and infection and at best, causes great pain after the operation and at childbirth and can even interfere in the normal birth of babies, putting at risk the lives of the mothers and children. A law of 2001 in Kenya, called the Law of Minors, prohibits the practice of traditional rites which cause physical or psychological harm to the minors. Breaking this law carries a punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine of 66 Euros.

136,000,000 women have been submitted to this horrendous act of butchery, 66% of which are expected to suffer the consequences in future. 50% of all African women have to undergo FGM, a figure which reaches 98% in Somalia and parts of Egypt.

Many parents in Africa take advantage of the school holidays to submit their daughters to this barbaric practice which goes against any norms of basic human rights.


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