Pressure groups want law against female circumcision

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Efforts at stopping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya may not succeed without a law against the practice, pressure groups have argued.
Despite the hue and cry and spirited campaign against the practice, FGM is still observed by nearly 50 percent of the country's administrative districts.
The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Kenyan chapter and the African Women Media Network (FEMNET), say only legislation will help curb the practice by serving as a deterrent to parents who force young girls into circumcision against their will.
"Despite Kenya being a signatory to various International Human Rights Instruments that call for the enactment of legislation against harmful traditional practices, there is no legislation banning FGM," in the country, FIDA said in its latest report.
Kenya is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ARC).
In its annual report on the legal status of Kenyan women, FIDA estimates that female circumcision is practised in more than 50 percent of the country's administrative districts.
The increased involvement of medical professionals in FGM, also poses a great challenge to efforts at eradicating the practice, the report further states.
FIDA criticises the Health Ministry's Plan of Action on FGM, launched in 1999, for not recommending a ban on the practice.
"Efforts will always be largely unsuccessful because in Kenya, we operate on a doctrine that .
there is no punishment without law," the FIDA report added.
It, however, urged women, families and communities to campaign against the practice.
But the call for legislation against FGM has been dismissed as ineffective by the National Focal Point on Female Genital Mutilation, a lobby group.
The group's Co-ordinator, Agnes McAnthony said criminalising the rite would undermine efforts to eradicate it.

06 june 2001 17:41:00

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