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A Celebration and an Update

Aug 20, 2007 — Categories: , ,

This month, there was a celebration in Malicounda Bambara, Senegal, of the 10th anniversary of the village’s public declaration to abandon female genital cutting (FGC).

This month, there was a celebration in Malicounda Bambara, Senegal, of the 10th anniversary of the village’s public declaration to abandon female genital cutting (FGC).

In my blog on April 5, 2007, I highlighted the efforts in 2006 in Lalya, Guinea, to end female genital cutting. The villagers from Lalya joined the celebration in Senegal. This ten-year effort in Senegal began with 35 mothers who had studied with Tostan, a human rights education program.

During their study, they realized that many of their own health issues as well as those of their daughters were directly related to FGC. When they announced their intent to stop FGC in their village, they were faced with opposition from other villages; this opposition, they came to learn, was due to intermarriage among villages. As they expanded this education program to other villages, the abandonment of the practice of FGC spread.

The women had made the connection between human rights, democracy, and choice: they wanted their daughters to have the opportunity to decide whether or not be be cut. Consent became a central issue.

Mayamouna Traore, President of the Women’s Group of Malicounda Bambara said: “We abandoned a harmful practice that violated our human right to good health. Today we are even more in harmony with our traditions and culture.”

When a community identifies its values, articulates them publicly and challenges age-old practices that are contrary to its values and well-being, change is possible. Today 2,657 villages and three African countries have declared their abandonment of FGC.

This is a powerful message to all of us as we work within our cultural and religious communities. It strengthens our hope that as we continue our education efforts and speak up and speak out, we can change the practices of our communities that still allow sexual and domestic violence.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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