Kenya: Protect girls by enforcing FGM and child marriage laws

31 JULY 2014 UPDATE: In the last seven months, Equality Now and our partners have been greatly encouraged by improved efforts to investigate and enforce Kenya’s 2011 Anti-FGM law and by the increased coverage of the issue in the Kenyan press. In April, the Director of Public Prosecutions created a 20 member Anti-FGM prosecution unit to track cases, educate communities about the law and accelerate prosecutions, particularly in high prevalence areas. Within its first few weeks, the unit brought several cases to court involving parents, circumcisers and a chief who failed to report FGM. The unit hopes that its investigations, prosecutions and community awareness-raising efforts will act as a deterrent to the practice. Additionally, local governments are increasingly receptive to working with civil society organizations to address the issue.

On the national level, Kenyan Parliament members were asked to bring forward a motion to increase penalties for FGM and to thoroughly review existing FGM cases, following a June protest in Kajiado (traditional home of the Maasai) where demonstrators called for the repeal of the FGM law. Kenyan legislators swiftly condemned the protest and re-iterated that violators would be prosecuted. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has also publicly called for Kenya to “achieve zero FGM status.” While there is still extensive work to be done to end FGM in Kenya, these progressive developments and the work of the Anti-FGM Board are showing increased political will to protect girls and women from FGM, locally and nationally. We will continue to update you as the campaign progresses and we thank you for your continued support.

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.

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta

President of the Republic of Kenya

H.E. Ms Anne Waiguru

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution & Planning

Hon. Prof Githu Muigai., M.P.

Attorney General

H.E. Dr. Richard Belio Kipsang

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science &Technology

Benjamin C Cheboi

Baringo County Governor

Simon Kitalei Kachapin

West-Pokot County Governor

The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association

To learn more about the campaign & for a list of full contact information for the government officials above, see: