According to UNICEF, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Kenya is 27%. However, the practice is highly practised among rural girls. 86% of girls and women want the practice to stop. A substantial number of FGM/C procedures is performed by medical health providers (mostly nurses, midwifes, and other health workers, but also doctors).
Kenya passed legislation banning FGM/C in 2001, the law applies extraterritorially since 2011. Kenya acceded to the ICESCR in 1972, to CEDAW in 1984, ratified the CRC in 1990 acceded to the Banjul Charter in 1992.
The 28 Too Many country profile for Kenya notes that FGM/C prevalence among Somalis living in the North Eastern province is 97.7% and that 75% have undergone infibulation. Among the Kisii it is 96.1% and among the Maasai at 73.2%. The Kisii and Maasai perform clitoridectomies and excisions, respectively. Prevalence among the Luhya and Luo is less than 1%.
According to Terre des Femmes, the age at which girls are cut varies depending on the girl's ethnicity. Embu girls are cut at the age of 13, Maasai girls at 14 and Kalenjin and Kamba girls at 16. The most common type of FGM/C in Kenya is excision.
In some ethnic groups such as the Maasai, Meru and Marakwet, FGM/C is seen as an initiation into womanhood. In the Mungiki sect, FGM/C is valued as a return to pre-colonial tradition. For the Abugisi who have the procedure performed by medical professionals, FGM/C affords social status and prestige. The Somalis in the north east of Kenya associate FGM/C with religion, culture and abstinence.
See also 28 Too Many's country profile on Kenya.
FGM/C Country of Origin Experts for Kenya
Dr Bettina Shell-Duncan
Email: bsdu [dot] washington [dot] edu
Bettina Shell-Duncan has a Ph.D. in Anthropology, and conducts research on maternal and child health in Africa. She is employed as a Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, Seattle. One of her areas of specialization is FGM/C. She has been a technical consultant on FGM/C for the UNICEF and the World Health Organization, and led the WHO research initiative on behaviour change with respect to FGM/C. She has published two books on this topic (Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000; Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context, Rutgers University Press, 2007), and written several academic journal articles. As a UNICEF's consultant, she prepared a statistical overview entitled, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change. This report was published in 2013, and is available online.
Dr Shell-Duncan has offered expert statements regarding asylum applications for African women several times previously, including cases where applicants are seeking protection on the grounds of fears that they or their daughters will be forced to undergo FGM/C. She is qualified to do so for claimants from Kenya since she has been conducting research on FGM/C in Kenya since 1994.
Anti-FGM/C Organisations in Kenya
Cherish Others Organisation Kenya
Email: cherishothersorgyahoo [dot] com, infocherishotherskenya [dot] org
Cherish Others Organisation Kenya is an NGO based in TransMara and works on health and education. The organisation contributes to advocacy campaigns on issues affecting girls, such as FGM/C; raises awareness among the FGM/C practicing communities in Kenya on FGM/C; supports and encourages girls and women. Currently, the organization is supporting a centre of a community in Kilgoris. The centre is meant to be for girls who run away from the cut.
Equality Now Africa Regional Office
Equality Now puts those at risk of FGM/C in contact with partners who can help.