A profile of female genital mutilation in Kenya

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Female genital mutilation in the global development agenda

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a violation of human rights. Every girl and woman has the right to be protected from this harmful practice, a manifestation of entrenched gender inequality with devastating consequences. FGM is now firmly on the global development agenda, most prominently through its inclusion in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5.3, which aims to eliminate the practice by 2030.

Key facts about FGM

  • In Kenya, 4 million girls and women have undergone FGM

  • Overall, 21 per cent of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years have been subjected to the practice

  • Nearly all people in Kenya think FGM should stop, though opposition is most common among ethnic groups that do not practice FGM

  • The risk of FGM depends on certain background characteristics. Girls and women from rural areas, living in poor households, with less education or who identify as Muslim are at greater risk. The practice is highly concentrated in the North Eastern region and in certain ethnic groups

  • FGM is less common today than in previous generations. This progress has been achieved over the last three decades

  • Most FGM is performed by traditional practitioners, except in the Kisii community, where health personnel are responsible for two in three instances of FGM. Removing flesh is the most common form of the practice in the country

  • Kenya’s progress towards abandoning FGM is strong compared to other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. Nonetheless, eliminating FGM by 2030 across the country requires additional effort