Pressure piles on Kenya to step up war on FGM

By Vincent Bartoo

International pressure is piling on Kenya to end female circumcision still practiced by some communities.

A Canadian MP Keith Martin has petitioned the United Nations and the African Union to push the Government to stop the vice.

This follows reports hundreds of girls in the North Rift districts of Pokot and Marakwet are set to undergo the cut this month.

"We need to take action on this. The health, well-being and dignity of these young girls are at stake," Mr Martin said in a press release.

The MP termed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) degrading and a deplorable violation of human rights.

"Canada should be stepping forward to condemn these acts and demand an end to this practice, along with the AU and UN," said Martin.

The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC) has also raised concerns over the planned circumcision. It has written a protest letter to Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN Philip Richard Owade.

"We are concerned about the news we read in Kenyan daily newspapers that 350 girls are lined up for circumcision," read the letter.

It adds: "As you very well know, this is against the Kenyan law as well as international conventions that protect rights of women and children."

Signed by IAC Executive Director Berhane Ras-Work, it calls on Mr Owade to intervene and stop the circumcisions.

"We would like your Government to undertake fact-finding measures and take appropriate actions against the perpetrators for the benefit of the Kenyan girls," added the letter.

The IAC deals and campaigns against harmful traditional practices in 28 African countries.

In Kenya, the organisation supports the Setat Women’s Association in Pokot, which fights FGM.