Talking female circumcision out of existence

From the Fixes blog at the New York Times:

Like every other girl of her era in her part of southern Ethiopia — and most girls in the country — Bogaletch Gebre was circumcised. In some regions girls are circumcised as infants, but in her zone it happened at puberty. It was around 1967, and she was about 12. A man held her from behind, blindfolded her and stuffed a rag in her mouth, and with his legs held her legs open so she could not move. A female circumciser took a razor blade and sliced off Gebre’s genitals.

Gebre nearly bled to death. She stayed at home for about two months, and after she healed, she was presented to her village, ready for marriage. . . .

Today, however, cutting has vanished from Kembata-Tembaro, as have bride abduction and widow inheritance. A study (pdf) done for the Innocenti Research Center, a research arm of Unicef, found that cutting had only 3 percent support in 2008 — down from 97 percent in 1999. This is a remarkable achievement. There is nothing more difficult than persuading people to give up long-held cultural practices, especially those bound up in taboo subjects like sex.

The change happened because of an organization that Gebre and her sister Fikrte started called Kembatti Mentti Gezzima-Toppe, which means “women of Kembata working together.” It is now known simply as KMG-Ethiopia.

Read the complete post here.



One thought on “Talking female circumcision out of existence

  1. “Community conversation”…great phrase resonating with layers of meaning.
    Going to use this phrase and example this weekend as I help out with Peace Corps recruiting here in my home town.
    Ideally, I believe if Peace Corps volunteers are truly embedded, they can foster community conversation through a phrase I picked up in library land…active listening.

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