CAMEROON: Female Circumcision Persists Despite Sensitisation
Apart from being an age old tradition, the practice is a source of income for some people.
Ebot Frida, is a 45 year old woman from Ekemechi village in Manyu Division in the South West Province. She is a mother of nine and a victim of female circumcision. She was circumcised after she gave birth to her first child at the age of 16. She says her mother forced her to accept circumcision if not people will be laughing at her in their society. Relindis Ojong another victim was circumcised like Frida and today she is an author of the practice. These and several testimonies sent down cold shivers in the spines of everyone who attended a one-day meeting on the violence against women that took place at the Centre Provincial Delegation for the Promotion of Women in Yaounde.
The meeting was part of activities to mark the 15 International Day on the fight against all forms of violence against women. The meeting brought together women's groups from all the parts of the country. Among these groups were women authors of female genital mutilation and victims of the excision. Apart from the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family, other ministries which have to deal with women's issues were also represented.
Opening the meeting, the Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family said the meeting was not a court session but cordial meeting to exchange ideas with the authors of such practices and the victims, to discuss and exchange ideas and to see how together they can look for an alternative solution for such hideous practice. According to the minister, female circumcision is part of all the forms of violence that the government is against. "We must have the courage to say it even if they are traditional practices we must see those that are good and those that are bad and find a compromise between the two," she said. According to her, it is not only because these practices constitute violence but because they are not good for the well-being of the woman," adding that 16 days of campaign is to remind the women that they have their own rights.
Female genital mutilation is practiced in the South West Province in the Ejagham tribe, the Haoussas, Arapshouas in the northern part of the country. Female genital mutilation is a harmful traditional practice which involves the total or the partial removal of the female genitals. These include the clitoris, the large lips (Libia minora) or the little lips or the (Libia minora). There are four types of female genital mutilations: the first one is circumcision which is the removal of the tip of the clitoris, the second the removal of the clitoris, the third is the removal the clitoris, the small lips and big lips. There is also infibulations where everything is removed and then the female genitals are stitched and only a small hole for blood and urine to pass. The practice is also a source of income for some people. Ahladji Sallaou said children are circumcised one week after birth at CFA 15000. He said he can do seven circumcision per week. He however regretted three years after they were asked to stop the practice promising them some compensation, they have not received any assistance. According to Mama Sarah, one of the authors of female genital mutilation, the practice is not only an age old tradition but it is also a source of income for them. She however admits that she will stop the practice if she is given some other thing to do to earn a livingCopyright © 2006 Cameroon Tribune. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).