The current severe drought being witnessed in the country could motivate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), UNICEF Kenya representative Werner Schultink has said.
In his speech to mark this year’s international day of zero tolerance to FGM, Schultink said bride price derived from rite could be used to cushion families from hunger and starvation.
“The government and the stakeholders need to support families by engaging with them in and outside FGM programmes so that the girls’ rights are not violated,” he said.
“We must listen to the voices of girls and young women as they are the ones directly affected. By empowering them with information and confidence, girls and boys are making a difference in the campaign to end FGM,” he added.
The UNICEF representative stressed that the day is meant to raise awareness of FGM practise and work towards its abandonment by engaging the community members and leaders, women and men, boys and girls to focus on human rights and gender equality in calling for a stop to FGM.
He said that although FGM is ‘rooted in tradition and culture’ it’s not reason enough to say it cannot be stopped.
A report released by UNICEF in 2016 revealed that at least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have undergone some form of FGM. Furthermore 3 million girls are risk of undergoing it every year.
“The current progress towards ending FGM was insufficient to keep up with the increasing population growth and if the trend continues, the number of girls and women undergoing FGM will significantly rise over the next 15 years,” the report says.
Schultink regretted that “FGM has far reaching implications for the emotional and psychological well-being, education and health of girls and women. FGM often results in complications in child birth, difficulties in menstruation, infections, urine retention and severe bleeding”.
He noted that it totally changes the victims’ entire lives forever because it affects the quality of their adult lives and that of their children.
The UNICEF officials said “FGM is a denial of girls’ right to life and health. They are denied the right to determine their own course of life and be consulted on key decisions that affect them”.
It’s estimated that 97 percent of women and 98 percent of men have knowledged and have heard of FGM in Kenya, this is according to the Kenyan Data Health Survey (KDHS) of 2014.