ending fgc in africa a look at four approaches n.
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Ending FGC in Africa: A Look at Four Approaches

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Ending FGC in Africa: A Look at Four Approaches. November 6, 2000. Best source on this subject. 1999 World Health Organization report: “Anti-FGM Programmes in Africa: What Works and What Doesn’t” http://www.who.int/frh-whd/PDFfiles/Programmes. The approaches. Criminalization Education

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best source on this subject
Best source on this subject
  • 1999 World Health Organization report: “Anti-FGM Programmes in Africa: What Works and What Doesn’t”
  • http://www.who.int/frh-whd/PDFfiles/Programmes
the approaches
The approaches
  • Criminalization
  • Education
  • Substitutive ritual
  • Intra-marrying pledge associations
  • Medicalization (On Wednesday)
  • In 1990s, growth in international pressure
  • modest growth in number of African governments banning FGC
  • of 24 countries with FGC, 8 have national bans
success of criminalization
“Success” of criminalization
  • Criminalization supported by some anti-FGC groups as creating “supportive context”
  • PR offices and media highlight anecdotal “successes”: example of Burkina Faso’s National Committee on Excision
general governmental lack of will and means
General governmental lack of will and means
  • 6 of 8 countries with national bans have no budget or special office to investigate cases
  • Burkina Faso and Ghana have budget and personnel, but few witnesses
  • Burkina Faso: since 1990, only 36 cases have gone to trial, only 10 are in jail
  • Ghana: since 1994, only 2 trials, both acquitted
  • Clandestinity
    • Drives FGC underground: night-time rituals, in forest instead of village; lookouts
  • Rashes
    • Kenya in 1992; Sudan in 1995; Gambia early 1990s
    • fears of new laws or enforcement lead to rashes
    • overall average decline in age of cutting (by 4-5 years)
    • decline in ritual (fear of discovery, disconnection from age)
criminalization makes education more difficult
Criminalization makes education more difficult
  • Hard to undertake thorough education in context of fear of jail
  • “How do you discuss something that isn’t supposed to be happening? The girls are afraid we will turn them in to the authorities.”
educational programs
Educational programs
  • 70% of all anti-FGM work on NGOs is devoted to raising awareness of medical consequences
    • women’s health workshops
    • literature dissemination
    • media
the impact of such programs a mixed bag
The impact of such programs: a mixed bag
  • Education an essential precondition for behavioral change
  • But where the main activity is simply education, change is spotty and slow
    • Mali: in one study, only 2% of women exposed to workshops said they were convinced excision causes severe health problems
    • Burkina Faso: after 6 years of educational campaigns, only 19% of exposed women convinced of dangers of FGC
information often irrelevant or inaccurate
Information often irrelevant or inaccurate
  • Anti-FGC campaigns emerged out of heat of 1980s: used El-Dareer data
  • “This isn’t what we do here!” (Gambia)
  • “Bolokoli cannot obstruct menstruation!” (Mali)
  • “But no excisor forces herself on parents!” (Burkina Faso)
information often abstract and time consuming
Information often abstract and time-consuming
  • “What do I care about all these numbers?”
  • “For this I gave up a morning in the market?”
information often offensive
Information often offensive
  • “Excisors do what they do from love and caring. Not to ‘butcher’ anyone!” (Egypt)
  • TV info-mercial showing old man informing on co-villagers (Burkina Faso)
but educational programs can work
But… educational programs can work
  • In some villages in Eritrea, up to 50% of girls now disapprove of FGC
  • In many villages and towns with high-quality programs, attitudes are changing: in Gambia, growth of anti-FGC sentiment in targeted villages, up to 60% (Association for the Promotion of Gambian Women’s Health -- AGPWA)
features of effective educational programs
Features of effective educational programs
  • Up-to-date, accurate, realistic information
  • Hands-on projects for improvement of women’s lives
  • “Working” seminars
  • Work through pre-existing women’s groups
  • Based in learner-generated materials: proverbs, plays, etc.
  • Non-directive, non-preachy
but attitudinal change is not the same as behavioral change
But…attitudinal change is not the same as behavioral change
  • In Eritrea, good educational campaigns since late 1980s
  • 50% of girls and young mothers disapprove/have serious doubts about FGC
  • 95% of girls continue to be cut
substitute rites of passage
Substitute rites of passage
  • About 20% of all anti-FGM programs are experimenting with these
  • Most successful: some villages in Kenya and Gambia
cutting with words in gambia
“Cutting with words” in Gambia
  • Format of traditional ritual
    • girls sit for 12 hrs/day
    • eat low to ground
    • elder women discipline and teach
    • girls dance, drum, feast, sing, make a pledge
why it seems to be working
Why it seems to be working
  • Framed as a “revival” of sacred traditions
  • Framed as a way to “discipline” youth
  • Anti-FGC message surrounded by lots of “secret” knowledge about women’s health
  • Excisers treated with great respect
criticism of the new rituals
Criticism of the new rituals
  • In Gambia: “What we need is not a new ritual that once again teaches girls obedience and their proper role. We need to teach girls to be themselves and to be free, not to be subordinate. . . I am against FGC not just because of the cutting, but because of what it represents: the same old patriarchal values!”
intra marrying pledge associations
Intra-marrying pledge associations
  • Just starting in Senegal: perhaps the most promising initiative of all
  • July 31, 1997: village of Malicounda made a public declaration to abandon FGC
  • Today: 30 villages throughout Senegal have done this
how can they have done this
How can they have done this?
  • Proximity to Wolof
  • Deep education program
    • village income-generating projects
    • broad health project (anti-diarrhea)
  • “Ritual” justifications increasingly seen as hypocritical
    • school at odds with seclusion
    • growing awareness that it is un-Islamic
    • declining age of girls cut: inconsistent with initiation