WANTS CUT DECRIMINALISED

Cut women more fertile, don't demand sex — Doctor

Says practice meant to reduce promiscuity and sexual desire among women

In Summary

• Dr Tatu Kamau did not back her statement with scientific or any other evidence.

• She said that she interacted with women who practice FGM in Dadaab refugee camp, where she worked for some time, and claimed they were more fertile and uncut women.

Dr Tatu Kamau makes her case at a Machakos court in February last year.
Dr Tatu Kamau makes her case at a Machakos court in February last year.
Image: FILE

A doctor who wants FGM decriminalised and recognised it as cultural rite says cut women are more fertile and don't bother their husbands for sex.

“Circumcision is meant to reduce promiscuity and stop a woman from disturbing her husband all the time for sex," DrTatu Kamau testified on Wednesday.

She was being cross-examined by lawyer Colbert Ojiambo.

"It t is for the benefit of both man and woman that [a woman's] sexual excitability is reduced," she said.

Kamau did not back her statement with scientific or any other evidence.

She said that she interacted with women who practice FGM in Dadaab refugee camp, where she worked for some time, and they were more fertile.

Circumcision is meant to reduce promiscuity and stop a woman from disturbing her husband all the time for sex.
Dr Tatu Kamau

The doctor who has practised medicine for 31 years said FGM in an African set up is meant to reduce promiscuity and sexual desire among women.

Dr Kamau was testifying in a case where she is challenging the government’s decision to ban FGM in 2011.

Her case is being opposed by a number of NGOs among them FIDA, CREAW and Equality Now. 

Dr Kamau says that her culture and cultural practices are protected by the Constitution and stopping her people from practising FGM will amount to a violation of her rights.

“Every citizen has a right to equality and freedom from discrimination but the said Act shows open intolerance to women who wish to undergo female circumcision even for the purposes of upholding their culture,” she said.

She cites Article 19 of the Constitution which seeks to protect the dignity of an individual or communities.

 

In her view, the authors of the Constitution left it open for an individual to interpret what will dignify them. In her case, undergoing FGM both as a culture and rite of passage dignifies her.

“If an adult woman feels that she will be dignified by going through FGM or celebrating her culture that should be protected,” Dr Kamau said.

However, she argues that the excesses of a cultural practice ought to be limited and not abolished altogether.

For example, she suggested that a more inclusive approach would be to retain FGM but put in place measures such as the age at which it should be done, how it should be done and who does it.

She takes the view that the use of the word ‘mutilation’ instead of circumcision is malicious and meant to denigrate her culture and misrepresent it.

“Your honour, the use of the term mutilation is offensive to any of us who hold the cultural practice to heart.

“Mutilation presupposes malice. Women were not taking their daughters for destruction, it is a rite of passage which we celebrate,” she said.

Dr Kamau further complained that the government came up with law abolishing FGM without subjecting it to public participation and therefore it shouldn’t be allowed to stand.

She believes that FGM has a medical benefit of hygiene.

But she agreed with lawyer Sophie Rajab that FGM compromises or completely obliterates biological functioning of a woman’s genitalia depending on how it’s done.

She noted that some extreme type of FGM results in difficulty during childbirth.

Under that 2011 law, anyone found conducting FGM is liable to imprisonment ranging from three years to a life's jail term.

It even criminalises a person who ridicules a woman who has not undergone the cut or abuses a man who marries such a woman.

The punishment for the offender is three years in jail or a fine of Sh200,000.

A former police officer John Koech also took to the witness dock in support of FGM. 

Koech said FGM should not be demonised because it is an Abrahamic covenant from God.

He told the court that both he and his wife have undergone the cut throwing everyone into laughter.

“Hii kitu inaitwa mutilation hatuna. Iko tu kwa dictionary. Sisi tuko tu na circumcision (We don’t have mutilation. It only exists in the dictionary. What we practice is circumcision), he said.

(edited by O. Owino)