FGM Female Genital Mutilation compromises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non medical reasons (WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, 1997). It is also a cultural and religious belief that violates women’s lives and rights. Most importantly it highlights gender inequality and it is an extreme form of discrimination against women. It violates the rights of children, security, physical integrity, and health. Above all, the right to be free of torture or degrading treatment and the right to life, especially when the procedure ends in death.
Procedures NO ANESTHESIA *Type III- Also known as Infibulation. *Type IV- All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. View slide
Health Risks ZERO health benefits. Obvious: damages healthy genital tissue and interferes with a woman’s natural bodily functions. View slide
Health Risks Immediate Complications Long Term Consequences Severe pain Shock Hemorrhage Tetanus Sepsis (bacterial infection) Urine retention Open sores Bladder and urinary tract infections Cysts Infertility Need for later surgeries Childbirth complications Newborn deaths Decreased sexual pleasure
Where Do We Stand? We believe that there are certain physical and psychological limitations that culture cannot transcend. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (2001) says: The right to participate in cultural life and freedom of religion is protected by international law. However, international law stipulates that freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs might be subject to limitations necessary to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. Therefore, social and cultural claims cannot be evoked to justify female genital mutilation.
Ethiopia Ethnic Groups Amhara, Tigrayans, Jeberti, among 80 others 2/3 Christian 1/3 Muslim Life expectancy = 51 years old Average marriage age = 17 years old
Ethiopia Procedures Most common: Type I and II and Infibulationcommonly practiced. Age range: a woman’s life…until marriage Where Type I: Amharas, Tigrayans, and Jeberti Type II: Gurages, some Tigrayans Type III: Afar, Harari, and Somali Type IV: Gojam
Ethiopia Deep Rooted Discrimination against women. Lack of land rights Discriminatory legislation Gender gap in work Access to education and health Constant threat of harmful traditional practices (HTP) Female genitals unclean
Ethiopia Attitudes and Beliefs As a woman you will… Get resepect Become a woman Be worthy of marriage and a man If you disagree…promiscuous and unworthy Religion as justification
Ethiopia Government Support National Constitution Article 4 Women havethe right to protection by the State from harmful customs, laws, and practices that oppress them and cause bodily or mental harm to them are prohibited. Penal Code Imprisonment and 500 Birr ($55 USD) fine. No enforcement whatsoever
Ethiopia Outreach Activity NCTPE Helps overcome HTPs, yet it promotes those with a positive effect in society. Especially leaders of the community. Tackles FGM as a health issue not a human rights issue Member of the International African Committee NGO that works directly with the community and other NGOs in the community. Provides: education, information, campaigns, didactic material, symposiums, workshops, etc…
Statistics 50% of women in Ethiopia have their clitoral hood removed 6% of women undergo infibulation in the five ethnic groups that practice it in Ethiopia.
Almost the entire community must agree with the abandonment of FGM, in order to eliminate it.
Steps towards effective elimination:
Extensive training of negative effects at an early age
Open, constructive, and informative talks where the community can learn about the need to eliminate FGM.
Partnership with the government, NGO’s , international and domestic institutions.
A Social Dilemma US Agrees with point of view of international organizations One standard throughout Liberals vs. Cultural relativists How can liberal states oppose FGM abroad yet tolerate it at home, to whatever extent.
Conclusion If 51% of Ethiopian population is against this practice, the global community should treat it as a cry for help. We cannot endorse a community that degrades the physical, economic, political, psychological, and moral integrity of a woman Yet, it cannot be completely eliminated Synergy among political powers, economic powers, international organizations, NGO’s but above all with the Ethiopian community. And if, with previous knowledge of all the complications and risks, if a woman (18 yrs +) still wants to go ahead with the procedure she should have adequate conditions
If this affected males….it would not even be an issue.
The final decision to end FGM can be only taken by women and girls.
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