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MPs to raise money for the surgical repair of FGM victims

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By EUNICE OMOLLO

In Summary

  • The MPs, drawn from seven countries in Africa, met in Nairobi last week, where they also declared to harmonise their legislations and coordinate interventions to accelerate the abandonment of FGM in the region.

  • The practice is still a deep-rooted and sentimental practice in some communities across Africa, and “targeting parliamentarians in strategies to fight FGM across the region is important because when all practices, international agreements and conventions, national policies and programmes are established.

The reconstruction of genitalia is part of the measures to be taken in the fight against female genital mutilation in the region, and to achieve this regional members of parliament will lobby for funds for surgery from their respective governments.

The MPs, drawn from seven countries in Africa, met in Nairobi last week, where they also declared to harmonise their legislations and coordinate interventions to accelerate the abandonment of FGM in the region.

In ‘The Nairobi Declaration’, MPs from Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Senegal and Djibouti vowed to focus on laws that inhibit the practice. Only 28 countries in Africa have laws that directly address FGM, and the MPs called for standard implementation of these laws across the continent.

“Even the best laws cannot be 100 per cent overseers if they are not well implemented,” said Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome. “The prosecution of the perpetrators of these acts in Kenya, for example, is so far apart. As a judge I expect during the peak seasons of FGM to have more people arrested and charged. But that is not the case. The chiefs, police, elders, communities are still not reporting these cases as expected.”

The practice is still a deep-rooted and sentimental practice in some communities across Africa, and “targeting parliamentarians in strategies to fight FGM across the region is important because when all practices, international agreements and conventions, national policies and programmes are established, it is their anchorage in laws that give them lasting impact,” according to Ms Els Van Hoof, an MP from Belgium and the political coordinator of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (Awepa).

Despite creation of the anti-FGM prosecution unit in Kenya under the office of Director of Public Prosecutions in 2014, there is still little to write home about in the war against the practice.

“We have a very comprehensive legal framework,” said Ms Christine Nanjala, head of the unit. “(but) our challenge is apathy from the community. In addition, some of our key witnesses are forced to withdraw support of the prosecution side because of the hostilities they face back home.”

As a result, many such wrongs go unpunished in the country.