HC Deb 01 August 1957 vol 574 c1499
23. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what enactment female circumcision has been declared illegal in Kenya; how many prosecutions for illegal circumcision have occurred in the Meru tribal area since the practice was prohibited; what has been the range of fines imposed; and how many parents have been imprisoned.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The practice is contrary to Sections 230 and 237 of the Penal Code but the Kenya Government's policy of eradicating it is most effectively pursued through the tribal authorities. Since the Meru tribal authorities in May of this year declared it to be contrary to modern tribal law and custom 254 prosecutions have been brought in African courts and 239 have led to convictions. The range of fines imposed varied from 50/shs. to 400/shs. and 65 persons have served terms of imprisonment in default of payment. I have no information on how many parents have been imprisoned.

Mrs. Castle

While we would all deplore the horrible practice of female circumcision, may I ask the Colonial Secretary if he agrees that the right way to deal with it is not by legal prosecutions, in which the parents of the girls who have inflicted this practice on themselves without the parents knowing may be brought to court and be heavily fined? Is he aware that the fine may be as much as 400 shillings in the case of a man whose monthly wages are only 50 shillings, which amounts to a crippling burden, and, in default, imprisonment? Is not this a barbaric way of dealing with a barbaric custom, which must be dealt with by educational methods?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am all for education, but I think that parental responsibility is a good thing in Kenya, as in Great Britain.