Kenya: Protect girls by enforcing FGM and child marriage laws

Kenya: Protect girls by enforcing FGM and child marriage laws

Progress! Political will to protect girls from FGM is rising and strong anti-FGM networks, including survivors, are increasing across Kenya. Surveys are also showing decreasing prevalence. To build on this progress and to help improve enforcement of Kenya’s anti-FGM law (Prohibition of FGM Act 2011), we worked with the Anti-FGM Prosecution Unit and the Anti-FGM Board to create a comprehensive FGM case-tracking tool.  The tool aims to promote accountability in the reporting, investigation, and prosecutorial phases of cases, while also providing authorities with the ability to track successes where the girls were spared from FGM due to proactive judicial mechanisms and alternatives to criminal prosecution, e.g.  injunctions, parental agreements. Information gathered will help pinpoint areas where interventions are most needed to protect girls and women at risk and to ensure the successful implementation of the law. Piloting of the tool began in Narok County in September 2015.

We also collaborated with the Anti-FGM Board to develop a simplified version of the anti-FGM law in English and Swahili aimed at non legal professionals. The booklet targets girls, teachers, chiefs, police, parents, medical practitioners and the general public to encourage them to protect, prevent and reports the practice of FGM. It also includes information on the FGM hotline and girls rescue centers where the public can report and receive assistance.

Equality Now has been monitoring multiple cases of Kenyan girls running away from their homes or avoiding going home from school during holidays to escape female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, particularly during the August and December school holidays when mass mutilations are performed. The Pokot region, especially, has had a high number of reports of girls fleeing their homes or refusing to return home from school. Despite the existence of Kenyan laws against FGM and child marriage, it is clear that they are not being implemented in the region to protect girls.

    Elizabeth from Churo village was barred from attending school by her parents who planned to subject her to FGM and marry her off. She found refuge with her aunt for a while and was attending school, but was forced to run away when her father tried to remove her from her aunt’s home at age 16. She walked for three days before arriving at a rescue center for girls. Her father came to the rescue center and tried to force her back home, but when the center’s management threatened him with police action, he left and did not return.
    Alsine from Tangulbei village was pulled out of school by her parents at age 14 and subjected to FGM to ‘prepare her for marriage’. She ran away to her older sister’s home to escape, but her father forcibly removed her from her sister’s home and began marriage preparations. She managed to escape once more, and after spending two nights sleeping outdoors,  was directed to a rescue center for girls where she is once again attending.

Please join Equality Now and our Kenyan partners, the Women Rights Institute for Peace and the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, in calling on the national government of Kenya and the local government in Pokot to take urgent action in accordance with Kenya’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

    Immediate steps are taken to protect, and provide support and shelter to, girls escaping FGM and child marriage and to ensure that at-risk girls are not subjected to FGM at any time and in particular during the school holidays.
    Laws against FGM and child marriage are effectively implemented with proper investigation and prosecution of violations.
    All concerned national and local level authorities work together to put into place protective measures within at-risk communities to protect girls from both child marriage and FGM, and to ensure that they are able to continue their education.
    Awareness-raising and education campaigns are conducted to change cultural perception and beliefs on FGM and child marriage and acknowledging the practices as human rights violations with harmful consequences.