Kenya: Medicalization of FGM Making It Hard in the Fight Practice in Kisii

Kisii — Despite the efforts put in place by governments, organizations and individuals in combating and fighting against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)through legislation and education, the Kisii community has shifted from traditional way of practicing FGM to medical way.

Medicalization of FGM has made the fight difficult for stokeholders including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to bring the vise to an end since medical practitioners and health facilities have taken it as a business to enrich themselves.

Medicalization of FGM in health facilities is an emerging trend in the Kisii community which is now revolutionizing FGM and thus pushing some of the health care workers succumb to culture pressure.

According to the recently released Kenya Demographic & Health Survey (KDHS) data for 2022, the FGM prevalence is 15 percent in the country, meaning that 15 percent of girls and women aged 15 to 49 have undergone the cut.

Besides being Internationally recognized as a human rights violation, FGM has been performed on at least 200 million girls and women in 31 countries across the sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab states and selected counties in Asia.

In Kenya,at least 4M girls and women have undergone FGM with 21% of these girls and women aged 15-49 years subjected to the harmful practice.

UNICEF report in 2014 indicates Kisii community ranked third with 84% after Somali and Samburu communities with 94% and 86% respectively in regard to FGM cases

Dorice Kemunto a FGM survivor said traditionally FGM was conducted as a physical certificate of transformation from a young girl to an adult ready to be married.

“Yes, I underwent FGM decades ago and I don’t want to see girls subjected to this harmful practice because the health side effects were so severe to my body,’ said Kemunto.

Kemunto aged 60 years has come out to condemn and fight against the harmful practice however she finds it difficult because most of the practices are done in hospitals and kept as a secret between healthcare workers, victims and their caregivers.

Beatrice Ombui a health care worker and also a champion against FGM said despite all the muscle in place to fight against FGM,the community culture believes is fueling the vice

“When performed by medical professionals, FGM may be perceived as more acceptable or safer, leading to a false sense of legitimacy in our community and this can hinder efforts to eradicate the practice,’ said Mrs Ombui