This is the kind of news we love to share with you. Africa has said “NO” to female genital mutilation.
The African Parliament reached an agreement last August to finally prohibit this tragic and discriminatory ritual practice.
Not long ago, we described how countries like Nigeria had taken the initiative to begin to regulate and punish this tradition.
Now the grain of sand becomes larger, with the hope of garnering even more support.
It has finally become an agreement that the African Parliament, based in South Africa, will undertake to regulate, prosecute, and finally abolish this horror that has scarred nearly 200 million women worldwide, according to UNICEF.
Below, we’ll give you all the details.
Female genital mutilation, a horror with too many victims
Female genital mutilation is not a problem that’s unique to Africa. The removal of the clitoris is also a practice in almost all Muslim countries in Asia.
Kurdish communities, as well as those in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia also practice this. And in these countries a more extreme type of mutilation is carried out.
They use infibulation, which involves removal of the clitoris and the labia.
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We know that this is a battle that has not yet been won. But we also know that this giant step taken by Africa is, at least for now, an agreement with the intent to become law.
For now, it remains only a proposal that has yet to be translated into a legal document.
As we said, however, this is a big step to ending a horror that has already claimed too many victims.
It’s not a ritual, it’s a violation of human rights
Female genital mutilation forms part of the initiation ritual for girls of childbearing age.
- It is often said that it originated in ancient Egypt; however, this practice also has a diverse background in Asia, Europe, Oceania, and even the Americas.
- Therefore, although today it’s more closely linked to the Muslim world, in the past it was also rooted in animist cultures, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
- Regardless, it is still a brutal act today. The goal is above all to deprive women of sensations of pleasure.
- The way that the ablation is carried out hasn’t changed much since ancient times. The clitoris is removed using glass, knives, or razor blades.
Hygiene is at a minimum. The risk of infection is extreme. Many have died due to this practice.
All of this leads us to a resounding conclusion. This is not a ritual practice. It’s a violation of human rights. It is an incomprehensible and savage act that millions of girls suffer before even reaching their fifth birthday.
The agreement and the beginning of hope
Africa has said “NO” to female genital mutilation and the world has heard the news. It’s worth knowing more about the details, however.
- The agreement occurred after countless negotiations by the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), with all social and political factions on the continent.
- They also had the support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP)
- What has been agreed upon is a plan of action.
- The 250 signatories from the African Parliament are required to initiate the formal mechanisms of the plan.
- It seeks to create channels of coordination with national and local authorities. For example, health departments will require families to sign a waiver indicating that they won’t mutilate their daughters.
- Almost 90% of this practice is concentrated in countries like Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The goal is to change people’s consciousness and levels of awareness.
This difficult battle will take time
The purpose of this agreement is to reach the same achievement that was reached in Nigeria. The authorities who signed it are aware of the great difficulty this presents.
In some countries like Guinea, in spite of saying “no” to female genital mutilation, the practice continues. They do it for very clear reasons.
- Many women and men believe that this practice is necessary in order to be accepted into their communities.
- All of this creates a complex social reality that has persisted for a long time.
Nevertheless, as the humanitarian organizations say the shift of consciousness has begun. So much so that many believe that in a few decades female genital mutilation will finally be eradicated.
Let’s hope so.