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Anti-FGM advocates want law amended to deter practitioners

 FGM in Tharaka Nithi County is 27 percent, the highest in the Mt Kenya region. [Courtesy]

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continues in Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties despite the National Government and the Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders banning the practice.

Council Secretary General (programmes) Washington Muthamia said the elders were keen to partner with other partners to eradicate harmful cultural practices.

The Meru elders banned FGM way back in 1956, while the Government outlawed it in 2011, but the deeply rooted practice is still being conducted.

“We look forward to the involvement of our elders in the restoration of our heritage and prevention of negative practices like FGM, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, and radicalization of our youth,” he said.

Fit For Future, a women’s rights advocacy group in Tharaka Nithi, and Ripples International, a children’s rights NGO based in Meru, are calling for amendment of the anti-FGM law, community empowerment, and other interventions to stop the practice.

According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2022, FGM in Tharaka Nithi County is 27 percent, the highest in the Mt Kenya region.

Fit For Future Executive Director Mugambi Munene said some of the key areas of the Prohibition Against FGM Act that require the attention of MPs include increasing the minimum fine for perpetrators of FGM from Sh200,000 to around a Sh1 million, and the minimum imprisonment term of three years to a minimum of 10 years.

“Harsher and intense court fines and imprisonment sentences will automatically deter Kenyans from committing FGM-related offenses,” Munene opined.

However, Ripples International Director John Baidoo said while good legislation is needed to sustain the fight against FGM, more needs to be done, including empowering the community that practices it to discourage it.

“When you look at the communities that practice FGM you realize that when they are arrested and brought to court and are given the option to pay the Sh200,000 fine, they are unable to pay and so they go to jail,” Mr Baidoo said.

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