Kenya: Doctor demands legalization of female genital mutilation

January 18, 2018

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A female doctor in Kenya has filed a court case to demand the legalization of female genital mutilation (FGM), as she claims the ban on FGM is discriminatory. Dr Kamau argues that the outlawing of female circumcision is against the culture of many African communities and should be reviewed. She said all females, especially adults, should be allowed to make choices regarding their bodies without being restricted by legislation.

Dr Kamau also wants the Kenyan Anti-FGM Board, which has been spearheading the campaign against the practice, to be abolished. After filing her petition on January 17th, she said: “Female circumcision is practised differently from one community to another, but it can be made safe. It is a minor surgical procedure that does not require anaesthesia or being put into a theatre.”

Counterproductive to women’s rights

Many organizations and individuals have objected to Dr Kamau’s opinions, and several organizations have offered to fight her case in court. The case will be heard at the Machakos High Court on February 26th.

In response, Adriaan van Es, Secretary of IFHHRO | Medical Human Rights Network said:  “IFHHRO strongly opposes any form of female genital mutilation. In our opinion, the court case initiative of Dr Kamau to have FGM legalized is counterproductive to protect the human rights of girls and women.”

WMA Statement

In the WMA Statement on Female Genital Mutilation (last revised in October 2016), the World Medical Association strongly condemns the “practice of genital mutilation or cutting of women and girls, regardless of the level of mutilation”, stating that “performing FGM is a breach of medical ethics and human rights, and involvement by physicians may give it credibility.” Thus, no physician should participate in these practices, and all National Medical Associations should prohibit any involvement by physicians in the practice of FGM, including re-infibulation after childbirth.

With regards to the medical and psychological consequences of FGM, the Statement reads: “FGM has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways, regardless of which procedure is performed.  Research shows grave permanent damage to health, including: haemorrhage, infections, urinary retention, injury to adjacent organs, shock and very severe pain. Long-term complications include severe scarring, chronic bladder and urinary tract infections, urologic and obstetric complications, and psychological and social problems. FGM has serious consequences for sexuality and how it is experienced, including the loss of capacity for orgasm. There are also many complications during childbirth including expulsion disturbances, formation of fistulae, and traumatic tears of vulvar tissue.”

Main source: News article Daily Nation, 18 January 2018