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Medics’ licences to be revoked for performing outlawed FGM

By Joy Wanja Muraya | Published Sat, January 16th 2016 at 13:11, Updated January 17th 2016 at 09:03 GMT +3
Nicholas Muraguri

One in every five Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) operations in the last five years was performed by a medical professional.

And Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri has said it is unethical for health professionals to engage in the illegal practice.

“You will be charged and licenses withdrawn,” warned Dr Muraguri.

The Anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Board chairperson Linah Kilimo also reproached the medics abetting the illegal practice and warned of stern action.

The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014 (KDHS) which was released on Thursday found out that in communities that practise FGM, it was done by traditional circumcisers, traditional birth attendants and medical professionals.

In about 75 per cent of the cases, the cut was done by traditional circumcisers, the report said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously warned member states to be on the look out as involvement of medics in FGM increases.

According to the survey, one of every two Muslim women is likely to have been circumcised compared to their counterparts in other religious groups.

According to the report released on Thursday, disparities were also found in ethnic groups with the majority of women, Somali (94 per cent), Samburu (86 per cent), Kisii (84 per cent), and Maasai (78 per cent) being circumcised.

The Luo, Luhya, Turkana, and Mijikenda/Swahili recorded the lowest prevalence of FGM at less than two per cent while women (36 per cent) and men (37 per cent) with no education were more likely to report that circumcision is required by their religion than women and men with any education.

Some of the reasons that promote FGM include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities.

The research also revealed that about 11 per cent of women and men believe the practice is required by their community or religion or that it should continue.

The study also showed a trend where girls are circumcised at a younger age. Forty six per cent of victims aged 15-19 were circumcised between five and nine years, compared to 17 per cent of women who underwent the cut aged 45 to 49.

Sensitisation campaigns

According to the findings, two per cent of circumcised women aged between 15 to 49 had no flesh removed, 87 per cent had the flesh removed, and another nine per cent had their genital area sewn and closed, a procedure known as infibulation.

The study also found out that girls of up to 14 years were most likely to be circumcised if their mothers had undergone the cut.

Meanwhile, Ms Kilimo has called on political leaders to enhance sensitisation campaigns against FGM.

She observed that political leaders in areas prone to the vice like Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu, Kisii, Kuria, Kajiado and West Pokot have not been vocal about the retrogressive practice.

“Political leaders have a massive influence in pushing for different courses and having them participate fully in sensitisation campaigns against FGM will be a great boost in the battle against the vice,” she said.

She told leaders to stop using FGM as a campaign tool during elections.

“Leaders be the crusaders against FGM and advocate for the well-being of teenage girls and women which is vital on development,” Kilimo explained.

She pointed out that silence from political leaders in affected areas has largely contributed to the resurgence of the practice that was banned by following the enactment of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2011.

“My appeal to all leaders both at the counties and national government that reside in these areas to be bold enough and speak against the vice in the open because it is for the good of the precious potential in our girls and women in future,” she added.

Kilimo’s appeal comes after her home constituency, Marakwet East, recorded a rise in cases of FGM among teenage girls.

In December last year two girls aged 12 and 13 were admitted to Chesongoch Health Centre after they lost a lot of blood following the cut.

She faulted leaders in Endo and Sambirir wards for their silence despite the rise in cases of parents forcing their children to undergo the cut, and challenged government authoritiesto vigilant at the grassroots.

— Additional report by Michael Ollinga


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