Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also know as Female Genital Cutting (FGC) or Female Circumcision (FC) includes all procedures that involve the total or partial removal of the external female genitalia (WHO, 2020). Although FGM/C is widely recognised as a violation of human rights, it is believed that it is an ancient tradition that originates from communities looking to control female sexual behaviour and ensure women’s virginity (WHO, 2020).
The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations (UN) sponsored annual awareness day which takes place on the 6th of February in an effort to eradicate female genital mutilation. Over 200 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to this horrendous practice (UNICEF,2016).
In Africa, FGM/C is practised among some communities in 29 countries, with a stagerringly high percentage of women being subjected to the practice (UNFPA, 2020). 98% of girls and women in Somalia have undergone some form of FGM/C, while 97%, 91%, 88% and 25% have been subjected to the same in Guinea, Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria respectively (UNFPA, 2020).
Although anti-FGM laws/campaigns exist as strategies to end FGM/C, they don’t seem to be very effective. Ako and Akweongo (2009) reported that there was a lack of politcal will to enforce anti-FGM laws despite FGM/C being criminalised in Ghana. Rasheed et al. (2011) also stated that irrespective of the fact that FGM/C has been criminalised in Egypt, the incidence is still high in Upper Egypt. A media campaign against FGM in Enugu, Nigeria also proved to be ineffective (Wogu et al., 2019).
If the current strategies in place are unsuccessful in progressing the fight against FGM/C in Africa, what new strategies do you think can be implemented to bring about the desired change? Is there anything you think we can do in our communities to raise awareness and reduce the incidence of FGM/C?