, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – The thorny issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was the centre of discussion in the Kenyan Parliament on Wednesday as legislators put Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi on the spot for asking for its legalisation.
According to Angwenyi, FGM is an important cultural practice and communities practising it should not be fought with laws.
“I wonder why this Parliament wants to criminalise people’s culture when in fact we have not made a law to criminalise gay people which is a Western culture. The Kisii culture is that we must have a small cut on our girls,” he charged, as MPs murmured in disapproval.
Mwingi North MP John Munuve tasked Angwenyi demanding to know if he had himself undergone the cut or exposed his daughters to the cut.
“It seems Angwenyi has been practising these ‘small’ cuts. He seemed to be well versed with the surgery and I have never known him to have gone to a medical school and he is talking about cuts. It’s as if he has participated in cutting or even he has been observing (small cuts being carried out),” Munuve observed.
Nyamira Women Representative Alice Chae who told the House that she underwent FGM, said the practice is demeaning to a woman and should not be tolerated.
“I wish he (Angwenyi) was a woman like me who underwent FGM and is surviving. It is wrong, it is pathetic, and it is primitive. I wish my brother (Angwenyi) can confirm they run away from us to go and get women from communities that don’t do it,” she said.
Angwenyi who kept murmuring and trying to interrupt colleagues who condemned his remarks was ejected from the House.
The MPs called for more stringent legislation and also extra funding to sustain efforts being undertaken by the government to fight the cultural practice that continues to happen despite it being illegal under the Prohibition of FGM Act 2011 and the Children’s Act 2001.
Majority Leader Adan Duale when presenting a report of the Director of Public Prosecutions told Parliament that the office was targeting FGM high risk areas.
He noted that North Eastern region topped the list with 97.6 percent of girls undergoing the cultural cut, followed by Kisii region at 96 percent then Kuria and Pokot which also has over 90 percent.
Other areas include Maasai community which is at 76 percent, Embu 51 percent and Meru at 45 percent.
The MPs further said NGOs fighting FGM should be held accountable to ensure the funding they received is aimed at addressing the vice at the grassroots levels as opposed to conferences and seminars that do not target affected communities.