A section of Kenyan doctors have put Kenya on the global map for the wrong reasons after it was ranked third among countries that mutilate girls in hospitals.
A joint study by Unicef, UNFPA and the Africa Coordinating Centre for the Abandonment of FGM ranks Egypt as the first country at 75 per cent, followed by Sudan at 50, and Kenya at 40. It was carried out in 2016 in 29 countries where FGM is prevalent.
In Kenya, if a person is found guilty he or she serves a jail term of not less than three years. Guyo Jaldesa, a member of the Africa Coordinating Centre for the Abandonment of FGM yesterday told a panel that the harmful practice has no medical benefits to girls or women.
“It has not been proved anywhere that FGM has benefits. What had been proved is that it has adverse health implications on the lives of women and girls,” he said during a three-day anti-FGM conference.
Some doctors are accused of medicalising FGM.
This is where they sedate girls and destroy their genitalia. Studies done by Accaf show that medicalisation is rampant in Kisii county. This trend is hampering the war on FGM and lawmakers and anti-FGM activists want the Health ministry and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board to revoke the licences of doctors found culpable. This will help reverse the trend and act as a deterrent, they say.
“FGM is not a disease. If a doctor who is under oath works on parts that he/she was not supposed to work on, all he or she is doing is just mutilating someone’s body,” Christine Sadia, the chair of the Kenya Medical Women’s Association, said.
Previously, girls used to be cut at the puberty stage, but since the inception of the prohibition of the FGM Act in 2011, circumcicsers have not only resorted to using doctors to cut girls, but also go ahead and cut infants.
“What is shocking is that for someone to cut children below four years, that is actually a sign that they are harming young girls,” Sadia said.
Head of the family division at the Health ministry Mohammed Sheikh said action will be taken against those found complicit. “Sometimes cultural influence clouds one’s professional judgement, but we must also remind ourselves that our duty is to safeguard the rights of patients and not destroy them,” he said.
Officials from the doctors’ board and the Nursing Council of Kenya said, however, that no health worker has been reported to the two organisations for mutilating girls in hospitals.