Uganda: Time to Unite in Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation

Published on allAfrica, by H.E. Chantal Compaoré, 10 November 2009.

In countries all over the world today, women live with the threat, or consequences, of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In Africa alone an estimated three million girls and women are subjected to the practice each year, and some 92 million of the continent’s female population are estimated to have been victims of FGM.

The justification for the procedure changes from country to country. In some parts of the continent, religious scriptures are disingenuously invoked. In others parts it is cultural traditions that help keep the practice alive. But whatever the reasoning, the simple fact of the matter is that FGM is a blatant violation of the most fundamental human rights and must be eradicated …  

… Burkina Faso is proud of the leading role it has played in the region in the elimination of FGM. It is among only a handful of African nations to have enacted effective legislation banning the practice. The subsequent prosecution of FGM practitioners, combined with a nationwide education campaign, has shifted community attitudes, led to a drop in the incidence of FGM and – importantly – provided an example, and encouragement, for similar campaigns that have sprung up in neighbouring countries.

The Ougadougou meeting comes at a crucial moment for the growing movement – in Africa and around the world – towards a global ban on FGM. This summer in Mali, thousands of women marched throughout the country demanding that their parliament enact legislation against FGM. Despite the best efforts of the conservative forces promoting FGM, communities in countries all over Africa are starting to question the practice.

The lesson learned in Burkina Faso is that women across the country are empowered to resist FGM when the population as a whole, including women in both rural and urban areas, understand not only the health consequences of FGM but are made aware of women’s legal rights, as recognised and protected by the Constitution and by national laws.

The moral imperative to rid the world of this most heinous violation of human rights most definitely exists, the international protocol is firmly in place – now all that is required is the leadership and the political will to consign this brutal practice to the history books where it belongs. (full text).

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