The Star (Nairobi)

8 February 2013

Africa: Three Million Girls At FGM Risk

MORE than 3 million girls are likely to undergo Female Genital Mutilation annually in Africa, Grace Uwizeye Programme Officer in charge of FGM at Equality Now has said.

Uwizeye said in 28 countries where FGM is practised, about 92 million women have gone through the rite. She was speaking in Tasaru Rescue centre in Narok yesterday during a ceremony to mark the International Day of Intolerance to FGM.

Uwizeye said the national prevalence rate is estimated to range from between five per cent in the Democratic Congo to about 98 percent in Somalia.

"FGM is also practised in a few countries in the Midde East and Asia, and among migrants in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand," said Uwizeye.

She said the practice has been recognised internationally as a violation of human rights for girls and women.

"The consent of a girl or woman to undergo FGM does not negate the practice as a human rights violation. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women," said the activist.

Uwizeye said the Africa Union that adopted the African Charter on Human and People's Rights has asked state parties to criminalised the rite.

"The AU has also stipulated that all parties should take necessary legislative and other steps to wipe out harmful practices in respective countries," she said.

Uwizeye said the national prevalence in Kenya has dropped over the last decade as a result of government efforts to ensure law is followed and the serious campaigns conducted by organisations.

"In 2008-2009, 27 per cent of women had undergone FGM, a drop from32 percent in 2003 and 38 per cent in 1998," said Uwizeye. The practice is prevalent among the Somali (98per cent),Kisii (96 per cent) and the Maasai (73 per cent), among other ethnic groups.

"It is relatively low among Kikuyu, Kamba and Turkana communities and rarely practised by the Luo and Luhya where less than one per cent practice it," said Uwizeye.

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