Female Genital Cutting (FGC): Lets end it NOW
It is estimated that globally 200 million girls and women have undergone some form of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) and that 4.1 million girls* are at risk in 2020 alone. Women often bear the consequences of genital cutting for life.
Female genital cutting (FGC) is a practice that consists of altering or damaging the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is a centuries-old traditional practice that is a serious violation of human rights and is a public health problem, associated with both physical and psychological health risks. Female genital cutting is nearly always carried out on minors and is therefore also a violation of the rights of the child.
The legislative framework does not appear to be sufficient to across the continet completely eradicate the practice.
A LAW ON ITS OWN IS NOT ENOUGH
With more measures in place to reinforce the law, other challenges have come up. Women who have been circumcised sometimes do not seek proper medical care precisely because of it.
For example, they often do not dare to give birth in a hospital for fear that the midwife or gynaecologist will notify the police as is required by law. Or sick young girls who have undergone FGC are not taken to the doctor, because a doctor could establish during the medical check-up that the girl has been cut.
Therefore, investing in culturally-sensitive education and public awareness-raising activities to accompany these laws is crucial to continue to make the practice decline and to combat these negative side-effects.
But what is the best way forward? In order to get an answer to that, it is important to look at what reasons communities themselves cite for continuing FGC. Research interviews reveal the following:
Culture and tradition, social reasons like the possibility of marriage, perceived health benefits, pressure from elders, regulation of women’s sexual desire, and consequences like alienation within the community and its referral network.
Despite the legislation, the practice continues 24 years later. And that is precisely why Enabel really wants to understand why people use these arguments and why they think they are important enough for FGC to continue to exist. Together with the government and the citizens of the Centre-Est region we want to come up with long-lasting solutions.
TAKING ACTION TOGETHER
When practising communities decide themselves to abandon female genital cutting, progress can be made. Within these communities there are a lot of people working towards solutions, people who are speaking out, trying to get the subject up for discussion and out in the open.
Religious and cultural leaders also have an important role to play here. Through radio broadcasts, for example – the first source of information for many people, especially in rural areas – they speak directly to people in the most widely spoken languages. Theatre performances about FGC at parties and in villages are also a successful way of getting a debate going.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, AN ISSUE GOING BEYOND FGM
“In Africa 41% of women are beaten because they refuse to have sex or to care for children. And 54% of women are excluded from decision-making about their own health. Yet, in a this highly patriarchal society, a lot of people find this normal, creating awareness is therefore complicated.” said Graciano Masauso, President of AHO
Because of this complicated context and because different forms of violence are intertwined, it’s vital to offer an approach that looks at the issues from different angles: “The promotion of family planning and the eradication of violence against women and girls constitute the common thread throughout all our actions. Starting from a holistic approach, combining the right to information, the right to protection of victims of violence and the right to access to quality community-based care,” says Graciano Masauso, President of AHO.