Magistrate Urges Public Education on FGM Act in Kehancha

KEHANCHA: Resident Magistrate Kasmir Augustus at Kehancha Law Court has emphasized the need for widespread public education on the provisions and penalties outlined in the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act No. 3 of 2011. Speaking to media, Augustus highlighted the lack of awareness among Kenyans regarding specific sections of the Act, particularly Section 25. This section penalizes anyone who uses derogatory language against a woman for not undergoing FGM, or a man for supporting such a woman, with imprisonment, a fine, or both.

According to Kenya News Agency, The magistrate pointed out that the FGM Act also covers penalties for individuals who facilitate or engage in FGM, including those aiding, abetting, or allowing premises to be used for performing this practice. He stressed the importance of educating communities like Kuria about the Act’s full range to ensure they understand the legal consequences of participating in FGM.

Augustus called on state actors and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to collaborate with the justice system to raise community awareness about FGM laws. He labeled FGM as both a legal and social problem, deeming it a harmful practice that has no place in contemporary society. He emphasized that courts are responsible for imposing severe penalties to deter such practices.

The magistrate’s call for community education is part of a broader effort to enlighten the public on anti-FGM laws and their societal impacts. Senior Principal Magistrate Moses Obiero, also speaking at the event, urged NGOs to engage more at the village level to educate communities on the harmful effects of FGM. He encouraged the media to highlight positive cultural aspects while condemning harmful practices.

Obiero defended the FGM laws against criticisms of leniency, clarifying that the current Act imposes significant fines and jail terms, with no upper limits set, allowing judges to determine penalties based on case severity. He emphasized the importance of societal response to laws and highlighted the need for inter-governmental discussions to address cross-border FGM challenges.

In a related case, an elderly woman, Wankuru Rioba, was arraigned in Kehancha Law Court on five counts of FGM offenses. She pleaded guilty to two counts and not guilty to the remaining three. Her case is indicative of the ongoing efforts to enforce FGM laws in the region.

Local authorities, including Migori County Commissioner David Gitonga and World Vision’s Anastacia Ghati, reiterated their commitment to fighting FGM and protecting the rights of girls in the region.

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