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Kenyan court throws out woman’s petition to legalize FGM

Dr. Tatu Kamau

Kenya’s High Court has upheld & validated the constitutionality of the anti FGM law in a historic win for women and girls in Kenya. The court dismissed a petition by a female doctor challenging legality of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011 (FGM Act 2011).

The petitioner Dr. Tatu Kamau wanted Kenya’s courts to allow women above the age of 18 to be able to practice female genital mutilation (FGM), saying they have a right to choose what they do to their bodies at that age. She also wanted the Kenyan government to annul the FGM Act 2011 and the board set up to enforce the law disbanded.

But in its ruling today, the court concluded that the practice of FGM violates the right to health, dignity and in some instances the right to life. The court held that no one can choose harm on themselves.

FGM is widely condemned in Kenya and other African countries but Kamau argued in a 2017 petition that the practice is an age-old Kenyan tradition and that an outright ban infringes on a woman’s right to exercise her cultural beliefs.

Kamau who represented herself in the case argued that the term mutilation is “offensive” and denigrates the cultural significance of the practice.

Several organizations including UNFPA Kenya, Equality Now and anti-FGM activists have hailed the judgement by the Kenyan courts.

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