How Female Genital Mutilation Persists

It is a combination of factors: patriarchy, traditional rule, cowardice on the part of Western aids organizations, political convenience and just good old fashioned brutality against anyone who dares reporting on it or fighting it:

And it’s torture too in the name of controlling women’s sexuality:

And so, fighting against FGM is left to courageous local activists (mostly women) who risk their lives by speaking up.

So, Sierra Leone has the Bundu society, just like we have the "family values" crowd and Focus on the Family.

Finally Some Good News on FGM Front

Via IRIN, the news comes from Yemen,

Blade "The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood (SCMC), a government body, has drawn up a national action plan to end the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Yemen.

As a first step, the plan – the first of its kind in Yemen – aims to reduce FGM/C prevalence by 30 percent by 2012.

The plan has yet to be presented to Cabinet for approval, but was discussed at a workshop on 24 June, with the 65 participants representing UN agencies, the government, donors and civil society.

According to a new, unpublished, study on FGM/C presented at the workshop, FGM/C is practised in five of Yemen’s 21 governorates, with prevalence rates of 97.3 percent in al-Hudeidah Governorate; 97.3 percent in Hadhramaut; 96.5 percent in al-Mahrah; 82.2 percent in Aden; and 45.5 percent in Sanaa."

The study identifies which types of FGM are the most prevalent in Yemen, based on the World Health Organization typology:

  • Type I — Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy).
  • Type II — Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).
  • Type III — Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).
  • Type IV — All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Type II is the most prevalent in Yemen which was found in 83 of the cases in the study. The plan to eliminate FGM would include the following:

  • All forms of FGM/C would be banned;
  • Health professionals would take an oath not to practice FGM/C;
  • FGM/C would be covered in the school curriculum; adolescents and children would participate in spreading awareness of the dangers of FGM/C
  • Media and community leaders would spread anti-FGM/C messages in communities that still practice it;
  • And religious leaders would de-link FGM/C from religion.

The damage done by FGM/C is grossly underestimated: most FGM/C in Yemen takes place between 7 and 10 days after birth (like male circumcision) and girls may die as a result. Girls that die from FGM/C usually die at home (it is illegal to conduct FGM/C in public or private health facilities) and home deaths are neither registered nor counted.

Photo Source: The type of blade used in FGM/C operations, from article, with permission.