Communities ignore, oppose or disregard the law

Members stressed the importance of people being involved in the élaboration and implementation of laws. Drafting laws through a consultative and participatory process facilitates and enhances the effectiveness of law enforcement.

Kenyan context : « Implementation of the Prohibition of FGM Act, 2011 is hampered by the fact that communities practicing FGM totally disregard the law and/or legal measures in favor of their culture. We are all aware of how culture and traditional practices are rigid and resistant to change therefore most communities tend to fight back on legal measures being imposed. In consideration of the punitive sanctions within the law that serve as a deterrence has made the practice go underground, with most communities stating that they cannot comply with a law that disrespects their culture and the fact that they were not consulted during the conceptualization of the law. However, there are some communities that are totally unaware of the existence of the Anti-FGM law in Kenya which then begs the question as to whether the government through the Anti-FGM Board has facilitated enough awareness creation and sensitization since the Act was passed. »

Example of Senegal : « in Senegal, where the law was not established through a consultative process, many people were protesting on the streets in front of the Parliament when the law was being debated. They felt their culture was under attack, and this is the case in many countries. When I was at Women Deliver a few weeks ago, a lady from Kenya phrased it very nicely: “The Act against FGM in Kenya is not well implemented in some regions, because people feel that the law is against them, while the law is actually for them.” » Even though Burkina Faso is a good example in terms of enforcement of the anti-FGM strategy, there was résistance at first. Annemarie Middleburg: « When I interviewed police officials in Burkina Faso a few years ago, they explained that when the SOS Hotline was being adopted (which is used for anonymous reporting of FGM cases to the police), people called the number to complain about the existence of the Hotline and told police officers to stop fighting FGM. There was a lot of resistance against the enforcement of the law in Burkina Faso as well. Therefore, the success of Burkina Faso shows us that progress can be accelerated when there is commitment and innovative collaboration across sectors over time. »

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