Kenya’s High Court has voted in favour of the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) on Tuesday.
This is after a petition was filed by a female doctor to legalise it.
In Kenya, four million girls and women have undergone FGM, the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.
The country outlawed the practice in 2011.
In 2017, Dr Tatu Kamau filed a constitutional petition calling for the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act to be declared unconstitutional as it discriminates against “national heritage”. She argued that women above the age of 18 would have the right to choose.
But the three-judge bench voted against her petition and said revoking the constitution would be detrimental to women and that after observing survivors’ testimonies it was not convinced that any woman or girl would consciously and freely consent to FGM.
The Nairobi High Court also said there is no conceivable benefit of FGM.
“The implication of this is that FGM/C cannot be rendered lawful because the person on whom the act was performed consented to that act. No person can license another to perform a crime,” said Lady Justice Achode.
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to end FGM by 2022. Yet the practice continues as some communities believe it is needed for social acceptance and it increases marriage prospects.
Kenya has made commendable strides towards ending FGM. Furthermore, the law could sentence individuals partaking in the practice to three years in prison, even if it is done outside Kenya’s border.
According to the United Nations, 21 percent of Kenyan women between the age of 15 and 49 have been cut and at least 200 million girls and women across 30 countries are also affected by the practice.
FGM can cause severe bleeding and other health issues, infections, infertility and complications in childbirth, the World Health Organization says.