Accelerating abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Marriage in Kenya
Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage are a fundamental violation of the rights of girls. However these harmful practices are typically deeply entrenched in social norms, especially in communities that are marginalized and hard-to-reach.
In 2011, the Government of Kenya, with the support of UNICEF, UNFPA and other partners, enacted the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act to protect girls and women. The national prevalence for FGM currently stands at 21 per cent which is a significant decrease from 38 per cent in 1998.
However, some ethnic groups have made little or no progress in reducing prevalence due to very strong cultural and religious beliefs that permeate in the society. These include the Somali (94%), Samburu (86%), Kisii (84%) and Masai (78%).
Girls who marry before they turn 18 are less likely to remain in school and more likely to experience domestic violence. Furthermore, young teenage girls are more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth than women in their 20s; their infants are more likely to be stillborn or die in the first month of life.
Closely linked to FGM, is child marriage which is defined as a formal or informal union before the age of 18 years. The national child marriage prevalence has decreased from 26.4 per cent (KDHS 2008-2009) to 23 per cent (KDHS 2014). Child marriage is a reality for far too many Kenyan girls, especially those from disadvantaged communities where poverty is rife.
In terms of regional child marriage prevalence: North Eastern (56%) is highest, followed by Coast (41%), Nyanza (32%), Rift Valley (30%), Western (27), Eastern (18%), Central (17%), and Nairobi (7%) (KDHS 2014).
One in every four girls is married before they reach 18 years.
Kenya continues to make tremendous progress in accelerating abandonment of FGM and child marriage. The 2011 Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act and the 2013 Marriage Act provide a strong legal framework to protect children. The Government has also established the Anti-FGM board, a semi-autonomous government agency that designs, implements and monitors programmes aimed at eradication of FGM.
UNICEF and UNFPA are working together on a Joint Programme to Accelerate Abandonment of FGM. The Joint Programme plays a crucial role in high level advocacy and provides a platform for partners to jointly plan, execute programmes to end FGM, and share success stories and challenges.
Protecting the girl child from FGM and child marriage takes a collaborative effort from all stakeholders including the Government, UN, Non-Governmental Organizations, civil society, law-enforcement agencies, media, communities, parents and caregivers, local leaders, religious leaders and the children themselves.
Together we can create a Kenya where every child is safe and empowered to achieve their full potential.
Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Kenya, 2017
Baseline Study Report on Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting and Child Marriage among the Rendille, Maasai, Pokot, Samburu and Somali Communities in Kenya
UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Annual Report 2017
2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey