Case to legalise FGM referred to CJ Maraga
Chief Justice David Maraga will have to constitute a bench to hear a case filed by a doctor challenging the legality of the Female Genital Mutilation Act.
On Monday, during the hearing of the case, High Court Judge David Kemei said he will refer the case filed by Dr. Tatu Kamau to CJ Maraga for purposes of constituting a bench to listen to the case which has elicited immense public interest.
“This is a case which raises fundamental constitutional issues for determination, and has subsequently generated immense public interest and so I will seek to refer it to the CJ in order to have an even bench to hear and determine the matter,” Justice Kemei said.
In the petition, which Dr. Kamau filed at the Machakos High Court on January 17, she argues that outlawing FGM is discriminatory as men are allowed to be circumcised and is tantamount to entrenchment of Western culture.
She wants FGM to be legalised.
She listed the Attorney General, Anti FGM Board, and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as first, second and third respondents respectively.
During the hearing the case at the Machakos High Court on Monday, nine organisations admitted as interested parties were granted 21 days to file their responses to the petition.
Some of the key organisations which sought to be enjoined in the case include the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA), Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, Equality Now, National Gender and Equality Commission and Katiba Sasa.
The court directed lawyers of all parties to exchange their pleas electronically and agree on issues for determination by April 19 when the case will be mentioned.
A group of activists opposed to the petition under the banner of Masai Cricket Warriors displayed placards in support of the existing FGM Act outside the court.
“Doctors, show solidarity with women and girls. Take a stand against FGM. Don’t touch FGM law,” read one of the placards.
Sofia Leteipan from Equality Now said that the organisation will stop at nothing to make sure that FGM remains illegal.
“FGM has harmful side effects including infertility, problems during child birth and maternal mortality. The vice has no positives and that is why we are adamant that we will not allow it to be legalized,” said Ms. Leteipan.