Every single year roughly 2 million girls under the age of eleven are victims of female genital mutilation. This invasive and dangerous procedure, which calls for the partial or complete removal of a female’s external genitalia, is a common ritual in 27 countries in Africa, 7 countries in Asia and another 7 countries in the Middle East. Those who are the victims of this practice are susceptible to several complications which include hemorrhaging, excessive bleeding, incontinence, infertility, infection and often death.

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work on the issue of female genital mutilation both in Canada and abroad. Just recently I travelled to a small Maasai community located in Kajiado, Kenya where I worked with local Maasai women on FGM. It was here that I learned that several grassroots organizations were working on the ground to raise awareness on this gross human rights violation. Organizations like Amani Communities Africa, which I have had the privilege of working with, have worked diligently to empower these women and generate awareness and understanding the human and legal rights of women, while at the same time providing them with the tools they need to respond effectively to abuses and violations.

This morning I was extremely pleased to read that Kenya has become the latest African country to ban female genital mutilation making it illegal to practice or procure it or take somebody abroad for cutting. In addition this law also prohibits derogatory remarks about women whom have already been victimized by the practice.

I would like to congratulate the government of Kenya as well as all of those who have worked so diligently to ban the practice of female genital mutilation. Although I understand that this will not put an end to the practice all together it certainly is a great stride towards changing the attitudes which surround this gross human rights violation.

With that being said, we must also remain mindful of the fact that female genital mutilation still exists in Canada as young Canadian girls are still being exposed to this practice. Although this is indeed a great victory for Kenya we still have a lot of work to do.