Kenya: Protect girls by enforcing FGM and child marriage laws
14 APRIL 2017 UPDATE: Equality Now is proud to partner with Kenya’s Ministry of Education Science and Technology to act as a judge in the 57th Annual Kenyan National Drama Festival during March and April 2017. Students from Naikarra Primary School were hailed for their performance of an anti-FGM piece during the festival. By encouraging arts in advocacy, Equality Now is raising community awareness around harmful practice.
Mary Wandia, End Harmful practices Program Manager at Equality Now, attended the event and said, “The students are at a point where they are forming their norms. So when we start reaching them at that age then we will manage to shift the norms that perpetuate FGM and child marriage.”
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.