7 February 2008

Cameroon: Zero Tolerance on Female Circumcision

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons is a barbaric act to womanhood.

The practice violates the basic rights of women and girls and seriously compromises their health, posing risks during childbirth, and leaving lasting physical and psychological scars. Estimated statistics from the United Nations reveal that 120 to 140 million women have been subjected to the practice and three million girls continue to be at risk each year. Approximately 6,000 new cases of FGM is experienced every day, five girls every minute.

International organisations have not folded their arms to the cruel act women undergo. That is why the United Nations designed yesterday as the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation to raise awareness amongst the general public about this cold-blooded act. The practice of FGM is still widespread in spite of a global commitment following the 2002 UN Special Session on Children to end FGM by 2010.

In Cameroon, experts from the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family, say it is difficult to have statistics on the practice of FGM in the country since those who practice it do so in hiding while victims of FGM are usually ashamed and afraid to testify in public due to traditional treats from kinsmen.

However, a UN report estimates that about 20 per cent of women in Cameroon go through a form of FGM called infibulation which occurs in certain areas of the South West and Northern Provinces. This is why as Cameroon joined the international community to commemorate the first International Day against FGM, the Minister of Women's Empowerment and the Family, Suzanne Mbomback, used the occasion to condemn the practice.

She underscored government's commitment to respect and protect the rights of its citizens. As such, Minister Suzanne Mbomback urged all to join in the fight against FGM. In Yaounde, the day was characterised by debates and film projections against the practice of FGM.

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