Kenya: Chiefs Undermining Fight against FGM – Report

Some community leaders in Kenya’s West Pokot County have been accused of collecting bribes to protect perpetrators of female genital mutilation (FGM) or overseeing young girls being forced into early marriages.

Development Diaries report that as much as Sh50,000 or a bull is collected by rogue chiefs to cover up the harmful act, Daily Nation has reported.

FGM, recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls, comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The national prevalence of FGM in Kenya stands at 15 percent, according to the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey, with nine percent of women aged 15 to 19 said to have been circumcised, compared with 23 percent of women aged 45 to 49.

In September 2011, Kenya criminalised the practice by passing the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act with perpetrators liable to face imprisonment for life.

Despite the law, some chiefs in remote areas, as reported by Daily Nation, are reportedly colluding with female circumcisers and parents who practice FGM by hiding, supporting, and protecting them from the law.

Alale, Kodich, Masol, Kiwawa, Nauyapong, Suam, Kong’elai, Kasei, Konyao, Lelan, Tapach, Endough, Sook, Lomut, Weiwei, Masol, Sekerr, and Riwo are some of the areas still practicing the vice.

‘Cases are not reported by the chiefs, who in turn receive money or cattle to hide and protect the perpetrators and allow the banned tradition rites to continue. A chief is given Sh50,000 or a bull as a bribe to hush up incidents’, the news platform quoted a resident as saying.

‘Many live like kings because they are well rewarded by the perpetrators of FGM who fear the law. You will find many driving big cars and living in bungalows’, another resident said.

Development Diaries calls on Kenya’s Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to investigate the findings of the newspaper and carry out prosecution accordingly.

We also call on the Kenya Police Service to ensure all secret perpetrators and beneficiaries of the illegal act are brought to justice.

Photo source: UNFPA


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