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Religious Tolerance logo

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C) in
Africa, the Middle East & Far East

2015-AUG: Unicef efforts to reduce
FGM in Africa and the Middle East.
2015-DEC: FGM banned in The Gambia.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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2015-AUG: UNICEF's efforts to eliminate FGM/C:

UNICEF reported that:

"... more than 130 million girls and women have experienced FGM/C in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is most common. But without far more intensive and sustained action now from all parts of society, hundreds of millions more girls will suffer profound, permanent, and utterly unnecessary harm. If rates of decline seen in the past three decades are sustained, the impact of population growth means that up to 63 million more girls could be cut by 2050.

Overall, an adolescent girl today is about a third less likely to be cut than 30 years ago. Kenya and Tanzania have seen rates drop to a third of their levels three decades ago through a combination of community activism and legislation. In the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria, prevalence has dropped by as much as half. Attitudes are also changing: recent data show that the majority of people in the countries where FGM is practiced believe it should end, but continue to compel their daughters to undergo the procedure because of strong social pressure.

FGM/C may cause severe pain and can result in prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and even death. A 2006 World Health Organisation’s study found that FGM/C is also harmful to newborns due to adverse obstetric outcomes, leading to an extra 1 to 2 perinatal deaths per 100 deliveries." 1

"Perinatel deaths" are deaths to a fetus or newborn child a few weeks before, during, or after birth. This would seem to imply that any person or faith group, or other organization that promotes FGM/C are causing needless loss of life and have blood on their hands.

Their report continues:

"Though the practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM/C can end in one generation. While UNICEF currently works in 22 countries on the elimination of FGM/C, since 2008 UNFPA and UNICEF have collaborated on the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Accelerating Change in 15 of those countries in West, East and North Africa.

Among the largest programmes on the issue, UNFPA and UNICEF jointly support government and other partners to strengthen legislation outlawing the practice and to carry out activities enabling communities to make a coordinated and collective choice to abandon FGM/C. Integrated and culturally-sensitive programmes including community conversations and education about human rights and fundamental values with adults, adolescents and religious leaders allow community members to discuss alternative ways of doing the best for their daughters without having them cut. This participatory process has led communities to organize public commitments to abandon FGM/C. A joint evaluation of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme was recently concluded finding that the Joint Programme had contributed to the acceleration of abandonment of FGM/C at community and national levels."

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2015-DEC: FGM banned throughout The Gambia:

The Gambia is a small country in West Africa that is almost completely surrounded by Senegal. It has a short coastlineline with the North Atlantic Ocean that is approximately 40 Km/25 mile long. Its population is approximately 2 million persons of whom about 90% are Muslim, 9% Christian, and less than 1% African Traditional Religion. 2

The practice of FGM/C has been nearly universal in The Gambia. In 2010, its prevalence aong girls and women aged 15 to 49 was 76.3%; by 2013 is was reduced to 74.9%. 3 On 2015-NOV-24, the country's Information Ministry confirmed that FGM has been banned in the country. President Yahya Jammeh said that FGM has no place in Islam or in a modern society.

Berhane Raswork, the founder of The Inter-African Committee to end FGM called the decision:

"... a positive step. ... This is a result of the work undertaken by some non-governmental organisations and women activists who fought against FGM for something like 30 years at different levels, including the UN system. ... There still needs to be more funding towards local initiatives in order to implement the ban."

She blames the high prevalence in Northern Africa on misinterpretations and misuses of Christianity, Islam, and other religions, who promote a:

"... patriarchal system in order to control the female body and most of all its reproductive role. ... In order to make the law meaningful the population has to understand its objective through education and information. Different stakeholders including lawmakers, religious leaders, women leaders, and the youth need to be mobilised to help implement the law to ban the practice." 4

Mary Wandia, who manages the anti-FGM program at Equality Now said:

"The ban is an essential first step towards ending FGM and we commend President Jammeh on finally announcing it. ... A law must now be enacted and properly implemented to ensure that every girl at risk is properly protected. The government needs to show strong commitment and prioritise this issue in a country where three quarters of women have been affected and reductions in prevalence have been slow to materialise." 5

On 2015-DEC-28, Gambia''s parliament passed a bill to enforce ban. Anyone who engages in FGM/C could receive up to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 dalasi (equivalent to about U.S. $ 1,250). If the child dies from the prodedure, a person could receive life imprisonment.

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More developments are inevitable because there are
many countries with high prevalence rates of FGM/C.

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References used:

The following sources were used in the preparation of his essay. Some may have since gone offline.

  1. "Female genital mutilation/cutting: No time to lose," Unicef, updated 2015-AUG-14, at:
  2. "The Gambia Map," Maps of World, at:
  3. "Country Profile: FGM in The Gambia," 28 TOO MANY, 2015-MAR, at:
  4. Ryan Rifai, "Gambia bans female genital mutilation," Aljazeera, 2015-NOV-25, at:
  5. "The Gambia bans female genital mutilation," The Guardian, 2015-NOV-24, at:

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Site navigation:

Home page > "Hot" religious topics > FGM/C > here

Home page > World Religions > Islam > FGM/C > here

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Copyright 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2015=DEC-31
Latest update: 2015-DEC-31

Author: B.A. Robinson
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