By Samuel Ouma
On Monday, 21 June 2021, the Kenyan government, through the Office of the Director of the Public Prosecution (ODPP), came up with modalities Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that would be used to combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cases by 2022.
The main objective of the procedures is to standardize and bring consistency and efficiency in the investigation and prosecution of FGM cases.
SOPs will provide the prosecutor with proper guidelines to follow before making a verdict. The procedures also will issue the evidence required, the conduct of the trial, and how to handle victims and witnesses in the prosecution of FGM and related crimes, said the Director of the Public Prosecution Noordin Haji.
“It is my hope that successful conviction of FGM cases will ultimately lead to prevention and eradication of FGM, hence promoting the rights of girls and women and foster the full realization of their potential,” said Haji.
A special Anti-FGM unit comprising of 50 female prosecutors has been established to implement SOPs. The prosecutors have been deployed in hotspot areas to tackle the menace in collaboration with other government officials in the grassroots.
The rampant practice in the East African nation is attributed to the prevalent culture among some communities. Statistics show that approximately five million women in Kenya have undergone the cut. Insufficient evidence has also slowed down the prosecution of FGM cases.
“The procedures are important for us because it will allow our organizations which deal with carrying out interventions on FGM to systematize their processes, keep all team members and stakeholders on the same page at all times and move forward in a singular and cohesive manner,” said anti-FGM board CEO Benardette Loloju.
Kenya’s Judiciary has vowed to speed up FGM cases to realize the eradication dream of the vice by next year.
“We want to assure you that as a Judiciary we are all part of this justice chain. We always say that we are at the end of the chain. Still, if the chain has been working effectively up to the point where cases come to court and are prosecuted, then there is the likelihood that the efforts of all those who are in this process will be successful,” said Lady Justice Agnes Murgor. She represented Chief Justice Martha Koome during the unveiling ceremony.