The practice has long been shrouded in mystery, which is widespread and profound. While precise numbers are difficult to get due to the secrecy surrounding FGM, the KDHS estimates that up to 9% of women between the ages of 15 and 19 undergo the procedure.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) of 2022, 15% of women experience female genital mutilation. The data also shows that the prevalence has decreased by more than 50% since 1998, when it stood at 38%.
FGM, which is defined as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons, has affected an estimated 200 million girls worldwide.
The procedure can immediately cause shock, haemorrhage, and potentially fatal infection, and it frequently leads to infertility or complications in childbirth, which increase newborn mortality rates.
FGM is most common in 29 African and Middle Eastern countries, but as global awareness of the issue has grown over the last decade, FGM has become more widely reported around the world.
The Kenyan government has passed legislation prohibiting FGM and child abuse.
This includes the 2011 Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act and the 2022 Children’s Act.
But one thing is certain: it is the silence surrounding FGM, as well as a lack of accurate information about its risks, that perpetuates this human rights violation.
The Kenyan government and civil society organizations should provide critical information on the vice in order to eradicate it.
The ALM-sponsored program in Kenya’s pastoralist communities aims to educate midwives and other indigenous health professionals as well as the community about the severe medical risks and complete lack of medical benefits of FGM. Through regional organizations like Samburu Women Trust, it has been successfully implemented in the indigenous Samburu communities.