Impact of introduction of the anti-female genital mutilation law on the practice of female genital mutilation in Garissa County, Kenya

Yasmin H. Derowa, Eliphas Gitonga, George Otieno, Alison Yoos, Clayton S. Jisuvei


Background: Female genital mutilation (FGM), is a social traditional practice performed by cutting parts of the external female genitalia. Garissa county in north eastern Kenya has the highest prevalence of FGM in Kenya at 94%.  This practise was illegalised in Kenya in 2011. The aim of the study was to assess the successes of anti-FGM programs in Garissa County.

Methods: This was a cross sectional study involving 108 participants of both genders and different age groups. Questionnaires were used in data collection. Obtained data was analyzed using SPSS version 25. Chi square was used to compare characteristics between female participants who had undergone FGM and participants not circumcised.  

Results: Of the 108 participants, 53.7% were females. The median age of participants was 23 years [Interquartile range (IQR])15-40]. The prevalence of FGM was 62% with the mean age at circumcision being 8.34 years (SD=2.69 years). Being of Muslim faith was associated with practice of FGM (p<0.001). There was high level of awareness of the anti-FGM law among youths at 84%. Two thirds of participants did not support FGM. Excision was the main type of FGM practiced. Among those circumcised, 14.7% were circumcised by trained nurses.

Conclusions: Introduction of the anti-FGM law, and its advocacy by NGOs has led to a reduction in the practice of FGM in Garissa county. There is an increase in the medicalization of FGM in Garissa with evidence of the practice going underground. This study recommends NGOs to have a clearer focus on the method chosen for use in advocating for the abandonment of FGM.


Female genital mutilation/cut, Kenya, Anti-FGM, Somali

Full Text:



Toubia N, Trope J. Caring for women with circumcision: A technical manual for health care providers. Caring for women with circumcision: A technical manual for health care Providers. Egypt: Research Action and Information; 1999.

Toubia NF, Sharief EH. Female genital mutilation: have we made progress? Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2003;82(3):251-61.

WHO. Report on FGM, 2016. Available at: Accessed on 04 July 2021.

UNICEF. Baseline Study Report on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and Child Marriage, 2021. Available at: Accessed on 04 July 2021.

Duncan S, Moore Z, Njue C. The medicalization of female genital mutilation/cutting: What do the data reveal?. Population council. 2017.

Millenium Development Goals. Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, Statistics, 2015. Available at: Accessed on 04 July 2021.

Ali H. Garissa county overview, 2013. Available at: Accessed on 04 July 2021.

Momoh C. Female Genital Mutilation. 1st ed. USA: CRC press;2005.

Johansen RE, Diop NJ, Laverack G, Leye E. What works and what does not: a discussion of popular approaches for the abandonment of female genital mutilation. Obstet Gynecol Int. 2013;348248.

Andro A, Lesclingand M. Female genital mutilation. Overview and current knowledge. Population. 2016;71:217-96.

WHO. Fact Sheet No.23, Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, 1994. Available at: Accessed on 04 July 2021.

Kimani S, Kabiru CW, Muteshi J, Guyo J. Exploring barriers to seeking health care among Kenyan Somali women with female genital mutilation: a qualitative study. BMC Int Health Hum Rights. 2020;20(1):3.

Berg RC, Underland V, Jensen J, Fretheim A, Vist GE. Effects of female genital cutting on physical health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2014;4(11):6316.

Hosken F. The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females. 3rd ed. Lexington: Women’s International Network; 1982.

Zurynski Y, Sureshkumar P, Phu A, Elliott E. Female genital mutilation and cutting: a systematic literature review of health professionals' knowledge, attitudes and clinical practice. BMC Int Health Hum Rights. 2015;15:32.

UNCIEF. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change, 2013. Available at: Accessed on 04 July 2021.

Leye E, Van N, Shamu S, Esho T, Barrett H, ANSER. Debating medicalization of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): learning from (policy) experiences across countries. Reprod Health. 2019;16(1):158.

Berg RC, Denison E. Effectiveness of interventions designed to prevent female genital mutilation/cutting: a systematic review. Stud Fam Plann. 2012;43(2):135-46.