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Rights group kicks as Kenyan doctor asks court to legalise FGM

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Tatu Kamau, a Kenyan medical doctor, has filed a petition in court seeking to legalise Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Kamau argued that a ban on the practice is unconstitutional and that adult women should be allowed to do what they want with their bodies.

In the petition, filed at the Machakos High Court in eastern Kenya, Kamau asked the court to order that women who willingly opt to undergo circumcision should be allowed to access the best medical assistance.

“If women can decide to drink, to smoke, women can join the army, women can do all sorts of things that might bring them harm or injury, and yet they are allowed to make that decision, I think that even for the decision of female circumcision, a woman can make that decision. And once she has made that decision, she should be able to access the best medical care to have it done,” Kamau told Kenya Television News (KTN).

The court will hear the petition on February 26.

Reacting to the development, Njoki Njehu, Director of the Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Centre, an NGO pushing for the eradication of FGM in Kenya, said it is “one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard, and it’s even more shocking that it is coming from a medical doctor”.

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“Everything we know about FGM is that it has no benefit and causes a great deal of harm. We also know the majority of those who undergo FGM are young girls, not adults. We — all women’s rights groups — are ready to fight this if it comes to that.”

Kenya outlawed FGM practice in 2011 but the practice continues, as communities believe it is necessary for social acceptance and for increasing their daughters’ marriage prospects.

An estimated one in five women and girls between 15 and 49 years in Kenya have undergone FGM, according to a study by the United Nations.

Also, about 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone the practice, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia and can cause a host of serious health problems.

FGM is still being practised in at least 27 African countries, including Nigeria, and parts of Asia and the Middle East; it is usually carried out by traditional cutters, often using unsterilised blades or knives.

In some cases, girls can bleed to death or die from infections. FGM can also cause fatal childbirth complications later in life, health experts warn.

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