Promote laws to end harmful practices

The prevalence of harmful practices such as FGM is still high in Kenya despite laws and policies geared towards ending them.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • More efforts should be directed to their dissemination and implementation, to publicise and popularise them to common mwananchi.
  • This can be done through budget allocations by the Executive to support dissemination and implementation of the laws.

Female genital cutting, teenage pregnancy, child marriage and defilement are internationally listed as forms of harmful practices and violations of human rights. Their prevalence in Kenya remains high despite laws and policies geared towards ending them.

Some of the key laws and policies in Kenya aimed at addressing such practices include the Constitution, Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011,Sexual Offences Act 2006, Children Act 2001, county-specific policies on sexual and gender-based violence (for example, Meru 2019 and Migori 2020) and a presidential decree to end FGM by 2022.

Unfortunately, most people, young and old alike, are not aware of these existing laws and policies. These laws are largely popular among the elites and specific stakeholders working in related fields, such as the police, Judiciary, gender departments and civil society and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Cases of harmful practices

The efforts of the government and various non-state actors who have played a key role in developing the laws are laudable. However, more efforts should be directed to their dissemination and implementation, to publicise and popularise them to common mwananchi.

This can be done through budget allocations by the Executive to support dissemination and implementation of the laws; their translation into Kiswahili and vernacular languages; and using the local media radio and television stations to create awareness and popularise them.

Teachers in the various educational institutions should also be empowered to extensively comprehend the laws so that they can engage the learners to make them aware of the contents and how they can apply them to address cases of these harmful practices.

That, in the long run, will play a big role in ending harmful practices in Kenya, thereby promoting the rights and health of girls and women.

Mr Bhoke is a youth committee advocate at Reproductive Health Network Kenya (RHNK). [email protected]

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