A medical doctor has defended the move by the government to outlaw female genital mutilation (FGM).
Guyo Jaldesa (pictured), an expert in obstetrics and gynecology, testified before a three-judge bench that the pain women go through while undergoing FGM is so humiliating and that no young girl should go through the traumatising experience.
“Subjecting women and young girls to FGM is like cutting the tip of a man’s genital organ. You can imagine what will happen and the demonstrations we will have if men were to have the tips of their organs chopped off in the name of circumcision,” said Jaldesa.
Scars and pain
Prof Jaldesa said as a person who comes from Borana community which practices FGM, and having done so many researches, there was no known medical benefit associated with FGM, as it only leaves women with lifelong scars and pains.
He further claimed that some communities believe women were born to undergo pain to justify FGM, and that the practice should totally be outlawed to respect women’s dignity. He stated that having conducted research among all the communities in Kenya, he discovered that only the Luo, Luhya and Turkana do not practice FGM.
“As a person who comes from a community that practices FGM, I can tell you that it is a bad thing. It is not something being pushed by foreigners to have us abandon our cultures, but it is the harmful consequences which justify the move to outlaw the practice,” said Jaldesa.
According to Jaldesa, five out of 100 children born by mothers who have undergone the cut die as a result of health complications brought by FGM.
He explained that it is a very painful experience when girls are pinned down by older women to undergo the cut, wondering how anyone can be convinced that FGM is necessary to initiate girls as young as four years into womanhood.
On claims that FGM was similar to male circumcision, Jaldesa stated that the two are totally different, as male circumcision only involved removal of the foreskin while FGM involves mutilating a woman’s sexual organ.
“Doctors are trained not to do any harm to a patient. FGM is a harmful practice and no doctor under whatever circumstances can justify the practice,” he said.
Jaldesa was brought by the government as a medical expert to testify in a case where Tatu Kamau is seeking to overturn the anti-FGM law, which criminalises the practice.
Dr Kamau, in her petition being heard by Justices Lydiah Achode, Margaret Muigai and Kanyi Kimondi, wants willing adult women to freely opt for the outlawed act as a way of observing their culture and for hygiene.
Her argument is that although the government banned FGM, there are so many women still going to hospitals for cosmetic surgeries to have part of their genitalia removed.
According to her, communities that have the cut are unfairly categorised as backward by those who are against the same.
She claims that banning the practice was to adorn Western culture and consider the local practices as inferior, and wants the court to declare the FGM Act unconstitutional, and also declare the board formed to fight the practice improperly constituted.
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