Social and Health Risks of Female Genital Mutilation for Medication and Braveness

Social and Health Risks of Female Genital Mutilation for Medication and Braveness

Abdurahman Hamza Ibrahim (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia), Degwale Gebeyehu Belay (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia), Asfaw Zewdie Tiruneh (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia) and Tsegaye Tuke Kia (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJRCM.2018010102
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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a worldwide phenomenon. Despite many attempts for its abolishment, FGM is undergoing till today. This study has been conducted in Six Woredas of Southern Region of Ethiopia in order to assess the prevalence of FGM, to explore its drivers, to assess documentation and tracking practices, and political will and synergy of actors against FGM. A total of 120 respondents were taken as a sample. Data has been collected using questionnaire, key informant interview, and focus group discussions. Findings revealed that FGM is prevalent in the study Woredas. It is practiced secretly and there is also a cross-boundary circumcision which makes documentation and tracking practices challenging. FGM is mainly practiced by traditional cutters and ‘festal doctors'. It is mainly practiced simply because it has been practiced by the previous generation. FGM is also perceived as medication to ‘chebela' [genital ‘disease']. Girls also perceive FGM as a sign of braveness. The political will and synergy different actors in the study Woredas, were found to be weak.
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1. Introduction

Over the decades, the issues concerning women and children have been given a great concern at international as well as regional level. Internationally, for instance, the principle of equality of men and women was recognized in the United Nations Charter (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Beijing Platform for Action (BPA), and The Convention on the Rights of Children. Regionally, the conventions include the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of women in Africa.

Despite these conventions, empirical studies show that women and children are still suffering from human rights violations and discriminatory practices at different levels in which Ethiopia is not an exception. They suffer from Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) i.e. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM), early marriage, rape, domestic violence, low levels of education, and lack of adequate representation in leadership and decision-making positions (e.g. Dejene and Birhaneselase, 2006; Kerubo, 2010; Pankhurst, 2014).

FGM is defined as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of female genital organ for non-medical reasons (WHO, 2012). It is internationally recognized as violation of human right of girls and women (Rahman and Toubia, 2006; WHO, 2012; Wilson, 2013).

Most girls in Ethiopia undergo certain forms of harmful practices including FGM. As studied by World Vision (2014), FGM is one of the most harmful and prevalent traditional practices affecting women and girls. This violates the human right of children and women which has devastating immediate and long-term consequence which include pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infection and death. In the long run, it might also result in urinary and menstrual problems, infertility, reproductive truck infection, sexual trauma, and keloids (WHO, 2012). Furthermore, it has an impact on other socio-economic development of girls and women. However, refusing to practice FGM has also a negative consequence like stigma and social exclusion (Rigmor, 2010; Wilson, 2013).

Different literatures show that FGM has many root causes and social drivers which include gender inequality, existing social norms, a desire to control female sexuality, religious narratives, and limited economic opportunities for women and girls (World Vision, 2014). It is practiced to preserve the sexual ‘purity’ of adolescent girls (WHO, 2011; Terry and Harris, 2013; World Vision, 2014). Such drivers are considered as root causes that made FGM a customary practice within the community.

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