A doctor in Kenya is seeking to legalise female genital mutilation (FGM), arguing that a ban on the practice is “unconstitutional” and that adult women should be allowed to do “what they want with their bodies”.
“I think that even for the decision of female circumcision, a woman can make that decision. And once she has made that decision, she should be able to access the best medical care to have it done,” Dr. Tatu Kamau told local media.
Kamau filed a petition in the Machakos High Court in eastern Kenya on Wednesday, saying that women are being harassed and arrested for undergoing FGM.
“If women can decide to drink, to smoke, women can join the army, women can do all sorts of things that might bring them harm or injury, and yet they are allowed to make that decision,” Kamau said.
Health experts estimate that around 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM.
- CGTN Africa’s Oliver Jarvis visited an initiative in Kenya that is transforming the lives of FGM survivors
Kenya outlawed the FGM practice in 2011, but some rural communities are believed to still practice it for social acceptance and increasing their daughters’ marriage prospects.
The petition launched by Kamau has sparked criticism from women’s rights campaigners who say overturning the ban would be a step backwards, setting back decades of gains made to “improve the sexual and reproductive health of Kenya’s women and girls.
“I actually think it’s one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard, and it’s even more shocking that it is coming from a medical doctor,” Njoki Njehu, from the charity Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Centre, told local media.
“Everything we know about FGM is that it has no benefit and causes a great deal of harm. We also know the majority of those who undergo FGM are young girls, not adults. We – all women’s rights groups – are ready to fight this if it comes to that.”
The petition is schedule to be heard by the court on February 26.