Female Genital Mutilation

Who: Ebie Cyral
Age: Teenager
What: Winner of BBC Outlook Stand-Up-For-Your-Rights Competition

This Sunday’s post is from Unicef’s Voices of Youth section. “BBC Outlook, inspired by Wu Ping who defended her building against developers in the Chinese city of Chongqing, organized Stand-Up-For-Your-Rights competition. British journalist and campaigner George Monbiot judged the competition and selected the entry by Cyril Ebie from Cameroon as the overall winner… Ebie described how he defended his sister and prevented her from undertaking female genital mutilation – an act that forced him to leave the family home with his sister for 9 months.” This is an inspiring story of courage.

Introduction

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for cultural or other reasons that are not medical necessities. FGM/C reinforces the inequality suffered by girls and women and is a violation of universally recognized human rights – including the rights to bodily integrity and to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

While health consequences vary, they commonly include failure to heal, inflammatory diseases and urinary infections. Gynecological complications that result from female genital mutilation/cutting can become particularly serious during and after childbirth, and include fistula. increased susceptibility to hiV infection is a concern. the pain of the procedure is known to cause shock and long-lasting trauma, and severe bleeding and infection can lead to death. the reasons for FGM/C are many and complex, but the most significant seems to be the belief that a girl who has not undergone the procedure will not be considered suitable for marriage. traditionally, FGM/C is performed by local practitioners, most of whom are women. in some countries, efforts have been made to ‘medicalize’ the procedure by having medical staff perform it in or outside of hospitals. this does not, however, make it less a violation of human rights, and communities should be helped to abandon the practice.

Building a Protective environment for Children

Government commitment and capacity: ratifying relevant international conventions, developing appropriate legislation prohibiting FGM/C and supporting budget allocations are effective steps governments can take to encourage the abandonment of the practice. these efforts can be reinforced in national development plans, poverty-reduction programmes and other state-led interventions.

Legislation and enforcement: laws that ban FGM/C and penalize the practitioners should be passed and enforced. this will be most effective in the context of a comprehensive awareness- raising campaign, including in schools and communities.

Attitudes, customs and practices: Support for FGM/C may be rapidly reversed and abandoned if attitudes and customs are collectively addressed by the practising communities. involvement of religious or moral leaders who can explain that there is no religious justification for the practice can help in accelerating the abandonment of female genital mutilation.

Open discussion: this is particularly important for many child protection issues, including harmful traditional practices. Communities, parents, teachers and children all need to feel able to discuss FGM/C.

Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation: Young girls at risk are rarely in a position to avoid or refuse the procedure. however, education and understanding of alternatives can help them to address the issue more openly with their parents, resist societal pressures, and protect themselves, their sisters and daughters.

Capacity of families and communities: As FGM/C prevalence follows ethnic lines and is perpetuated among intra-marrying communities, it is essential to coordinate the work done among communities with such ties. Grass-roots nongovernmental and community-based organizations concerned with the protection of human rights and human dignity need to be strengthened and supported, as they play an important role in FGM/C abandonment.

Essential services, including prevention, recovery and reintegration: Support for women who oppose genital mutilation/ cutting and help for those who have undergone the procedure include medical services to deal with the health consequences of FGM/C – which tend to be chronic and life-long – as well as educational and awareness-raising activities that contribute to the abandonment of the practice.

Monitoring, reporting and oversight: Analysis of data collected through the demographic and health Survey, for example, should be widely disseminated and utilized. Agreed indicators should become a common monitoring tool. Main interventions should include baseline participatory assessments and local ethnographic studies.

by Cyril Ebie from Camerron

It is a small settlement bounded by loads of superstition and barbarism, especially female genital mutilation.

I recently heard a debate on the national radio condemning this practice as bad.

Before I watched this program, I’d been made to believe from childhood that it was an act of virtue to a woman, thus obligatory to every girl child.

I mourned and grieved after that show because my two elder sisters had been mutilated out of ignorance.

I therefore informed my parents with a long cue of reasons, I gathered from the show.

I convinced them to decease from the practice.

They cursed my approach and refused my every word.

I was desperate and restless because my Dad assured me they would soon mutilate my kid sister for she’s come of age.

So I decided to let my kid sister know about it even If it meant educating her on the disadvantages.

I was stunned when I approached her and discovered she was dying softly of the same pain. She had listened to that same program but never knew who to confide in.

I promised I would fight for her. I allied with my sisters and we confronted our parents.

I told my father we were going to run away if they insisted on mutilating her, but they never took us serious.

So at night, I escaped with my kid sister.

We made our elder sisters promise not to tell our father where we’ve gone. We stayed with a friend of mine in the city for nine whole months.

One day, one of my sisters visited us and talked us to come home. We resisted, and then she told us everything.

My father had visited the council of elders to complain about the practice and how he lost his only son because he was trying to free the sister.

Tongue-tight elders could now speak-out. The youths protested and demonstrated at the palace.

When our Fon saw that it was inevitable, he put a stop to it. Everyone was relieved especially the girls.

When we returned home, my Dad was delighted.

He told me I deserved the honour given to him. The truth is; they paid tribute to him for having spearheaded the uprising.

He poured palm wine on my head, and then blessed me.

I was pleased because by standing for my sister’s right, I saved the lives of all the girls living in our small farm settlement of Mbemi.

Fact Sheet

FGM/C occurs mainly in countries along a belt stretching from Senegal in West Africa to Somalia in east Africa and to Yemen in the Middle east, but it is also practised in some parts of south-east Asia. reports from europe, north America and Australia indicate that it is practised among immigrant communities as well.

It is estimated that more than 130 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting.

FGM/C is generally carried out on girls between the ages of 4 and 14; it is also performed on infants, women who are about to get married and, sometimes, women who are pregnant with their first child or who have just given birth.

Most recent demographic health Survey data for egypt indicate that the prevalence rate among ever-married women aged 15–49 has shown a slight decline from 97 per cent to 96 per cent.

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~ by PJ on January 26, 2008.

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