UNFPA Global Consultation on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting30th July to 3rd August 2007 Face of FGM/FGC in Southern Africa By By Safiatu singhateh Regional Adviser, Gender Population and Development
Types and patterns of FGM/C and related practices found in Southern Africa • Type 1V. Stretching of the clitoris and/or the labia using different means: The elongation of the clitoris and the labia minora is very common in Central and southern African regions. The manner in which this is done varies from country to country, some of which are equally health hazardous
Types and patterns of FGM/C and related practices found in Southern Africa • Introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina with the aim of tightening or narrowing : • This may or may not be a rite of passage, but it is very common throughout the African region. • This is done by women themselves. Studies have shown that women do this not for their own pleasure but for that of their male partners.
Types and patterns of FGM/C and related practices found in Southern Africa • Making patterns of deep cuttings around the inner and outer parts of the thighs and the buttocks to create scared contours: This is a form of passage rite an it is performed on the girl child before puberty. The scared contours are believed to create some sensation for the male partner as he caresses the buttocks and inner thighs of his partner before and during intercourse
Other Forms of practices found in Southern Africa • Then there is the Reed dance in the Swazi culture which denotes the passage rite of girls. Every girl goes through this cultural practice. A principal requirement for participating is that the girl must be a virgin. Thus the maidens go through a dancing ritual with exposed breasts and very short tasseled skirts, which also expose their nakedness
Other Forms of practices found in Southern Africa • Virginity testing of girls is very common in Swaziland as well as in the Kwazilu Natal province in South Africa. Such testing is carried out by traditional female Sangomas. It is the view that girls who pass the test command respect and stand greater chances of marriage. On the other hand they may easily fall prey to rape.
Other Forms of practices found in Southern Africa • There is also the Moon Light Dance, a form of passage rite, practiced among a few tribes in certain parts of Tanzania but also by immigrants in some Southern African countries. During this period girls between the ages of eight andI twelve years old are introduced to young men of age fifteen and eighteen. The young men are required to pair up with the girls, dilate their vagina with special lubricating oil and then penetrate them. marking the climax of the passage rite. This practice is done before puberty to prevent pregnancy, but the health risks are obvious
Approaches that have worked in elliminating harmful practices associated with the female genitalia • Raising awareness on the existence and implication s of the practices • Building partnership and alliances with the community and ensuring that awareness raising and prevention programmes are designed through participatory processes • Involvement of significant stakeholders such as religious and traditional leaders, men, youths, and influential women, media professionals in all processes leading to prevention interventions
Approaches that have worked in elliminating harmful practices associated with the female genitalia • Assessment and incorporating of positive cultural values to programme interventions • Supporting and celebrating positive social and cultural aspects and meanings while addressing the basic sexual and reproductive health issues • Ensuring that all IEC messages and materials are explicit yet gender and culture sensitive and well tested
Approaches that have worked in elliminating harmful practices associated with the female genitalia • Establishing alliances and partnerships between health practitioners, human rights activists and women and youth groups at districts and national levels to advocate for and rally around issues of culture and religion that interferes with female sexuality
ACTIONS for prevention • Intensifying campaigns against harmful practices associated with the female genitalia • Supporting and building the capacity of NGOs and CBOs to scale up action against such practices and gender discriminatory practices • Supporting women associations and government’s mechanisms on gender to put in place community-based child protection systems, and counselling for women on such practices.
ACTIONS for prevention • Incorporating aspects of sexuality and cultural practices in SRH and anti-natal programmes, as well as in the academia • Supporting women’s discussion groups on issues of sexuality • Monitoring and reporting on efforts to eliminate harmful practices associated with the female sexuality.