Alarm over FGM cases in private clinics

July 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 20 – The government has raised concern over the rise in Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) being done in hospitals.

The Head of Family Health at the Ministry of Public health Dr Josephine Kibaru said on Monday that the practise was especially taking place in private clinics but also involved some government health facilities.

"In some places parents are arranging with health workers to go to their homes and do it there so that they don’t go to the hospitals or anywhere where people will notice. So this health worker is like a consultant in the home," Dr Kibaru said.

"This is worse because it is making it look like it is a good thing and we are saying it is even worse than the quacks doing it out there," she added.

The 1998 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) showed that 50 percent of all female genital cuts in Kisii and Nyamira districts which are notorious for the practise were done by trained doctors, nurses or midwives.

Thirty nine percent were conducted by a traditional circumciser and 11 percent by a traditional midwife. There are now fears that the figures could be much higher and the government is in the process of conducting another demographic survey.

Marakwet East MP Linah Jebii Kilimo said there was need to entrench FGM in the constitution to criminalise it and make it a human rights issue.

"The Children’s Act protects only up to the age of 18 then what happens after that?" the MP posed.

"We have had cases where women are circumcised when they are giving birth and there are some communities where if you die before being circumcised, they will cut you when you are dead.  It’s as though it’s a crime not to be cut," she said.

Mrs Kilimo pointed out that educational campaigns had been left to Civil Society organisations which did not have the capacity to conduct continuous awareness.

"When NGOs go (to create awareness) its one day or a week. They hold community meetings then leave. We need somebody to live amongst these communities and tell them about the effects of Female Genital Mutilation," she said.

"The government has not done much because you don’t find government officers talking about it," she added.

UNICEF Regional Advisor – Child Protection, Margie De Monchy said continued practise of FGM was a continuous violation of the rights of a child.

She observed that it had fatal consequences often causing deaths of the first babies born of women who had gone through the cut.

"Studies by the World Health Organisation in 2006 on FGM confirm that women who have been subjected to the practise are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during child birth that can even lead to death," she said.

Ms Monchy noted that this impeded on efforts to reduce maternal mortality

A World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Dr Joyce Laboso said the 2004 KDHS showed that 32 percent of women and young girls in Kenya still underwent FGM.

"Medicalisation of FGM makes it look like it’s an acceptable practise and we cannot allow it," she said.


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