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FGM & child marriage in Kenya

What are the laws around child marriage and FGM in Kenya? How are they implemented and how can you access support if you are at risk? Learn more from Equality Now

So what are the current laws on child marriage and FGM in Kenya?

Both FGM and child marriage have been illegal in Kenya since 2001 when the Children’s Act became law. Other laws such as the Sexual Offences Act, 2006, the Prohibition Of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2011 and the Marriage Act, 2014, which sets the age of marriage at 18 years, also protect girls from these practices.

Through these laws, the government acknowledges that both practices have a harmful effect on the rights of women and girls. They, however, remain common with prevalence of child marriage at 23% and FGM at 21%.

How are these laws implemented and what can be improved?

Considering that the full implementation of these laws remains a challenge, perpetrators of FGM and child marriage often get away with these violations. The laws, therefore, need to be effectively enforced.

To this end, Equality Now has engaged with law enforcement agents, government departments and the National Gender and Equality Commission to improve their ability to hold perpetrators to account.

Are child marriage and FGM linked in Kenya? 

Equality Now has been monitoring multiple cases of Kenyan girls running away from their homes or avoiding going home from school during holidays to escape female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, particularly during the August and December school holidays when mass mutilations are performed. The Pokot region, especially, has had a high number of reports of girls fleeing their homes or refusing to return home from school. Despite the existence of Kenyan laws against FGM and child marriage, it is clear that they are not being implemented in the region to protect girls.

Elizabeth from Churo village was barred from attending school by her parents who planned to subject her to FGM and marry her off. She found refuge with her aunt for a while and was attending school, but was forced to run away when her father tried to remove her from her aunt’s home at age 16. She walked for three days before arriving at a rescue center for girls. Her father came to the rescue center and tried to force her back home, but when the center’s management threatened him with police action, he left and did not return.

Alsine from Tangulbei village was pulled out of school by her parents at age 14 and subjected to FGM to ‘prepare her for marriage’. She ran away to her older sister’s home to escape, but her father forcibly removed her from her sister’s home and began marriage preparations. She managed to escape once more, and after spending two nights sleeping outdoors, she was directed to a rescue center for girls where she is once again attending.

How to access support if you are at risk of child marriage or FGM in Kenya?

If you, or someone you know, is at risk of child marriage or FGM call the Kenya National Council for Children’s Services toll-free on 116 to access support and connect to law enforcement agencies.