ETHIOPIA: Country Urged to Take Strong Action to Stop FGM

The Ethiopian government has yet to be serious enough to take stronger action to deter Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 100%, an Ethiopian woman activist engaged in fighting FGM said on Monday.

According to Bogalech Gebre Founder and Executive Director of Kembatti Menti Gezzima (KMG), Kembatta Women's Self-Help Center the issue of women's' rights is a sidelined issue and that FGM is one of the aspects of Ethiopian women rights that is violated to great extent

Speaking to The Daily Monitor on the sidelines of Global Consultation on FGM being held in Ethiopia, Bogalech said there was a lot Ethiopia could learn from neighboring Eritrea and Djibouti as far as FGM was concerned.

"Eritrea and Benin are the two countries that consider FGM as human issue not a cultural issue. But in our country the low is not deterrent. When the law is not deterrent people are not afraid of breaking that law. I think Ethiopia as a country must take a lesson from Eritrea and Djibouti to abolish or criminalize," Bogalech said.

"In Djibouti it is about a million Frank and 15 years imprisonment and other Africans too," Bogalech added "A signatory to many of the laws like international lows have not even been ratified, Maputo Protocol which abolish or criminalize FGM." So Ethiopia really for its ties and for practice in the country even currently the lowest estimate 74% of all girls undergoing this horrific experience should mean something, she added.

"My life as a woman and my child as a female child it is not worth more than or can not compare with 500 birr and three months imprisonment," she said referring to the kind of punishment the culprit is normally given.

"This is too scary to live in the country where violence against women has become such epidemic because of this kind of law." Bogalech wondered how country can brag it self as champion of democracy and good governance with a low too weak to protect valuable girls and women from a crime as horrific as FGM.

She said a country can not be recognized as democratic a progressive country with poor or non existent track record in fighting FGM.

According to the activist, even the existing law under practice is not reinforced.

"The enforcement of the law is extremely weak. There is no linkage between the low making and the policy and the enforcement of the law." Bogalech urged that Ethiopia should come up with "stronger law, stronger punishment which is 100 % deterrent" She also called on the government to ratify all the African Charters as well as all the Human right Charter that Ethiopian has signed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 120 and 140 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM in 28 African countries and immigrant communities in the USA, Canada, Australia, as well as in Asian countries.

At the global consultation, UNFPA called for strong action to save three million African girls and women being affected by Female Genital Mutilations/cutting (FGM) annually.

"Today, we remember the 120 to 140 million women and girls who have been subjected to this practice across the world. Indeed our thoughts also go to the three million women and girls predominantly from 28 African countries who are forced to go through this practice this year in order to this complex and deeply rooted tradition and cultural practice," Hane Ba said.

However, UNFPA indicated that the prevalence is reducing in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali and Nigeria with an average of six per cent, but it still remains to be a health challenge in these countries and Africa as a whole.

SOURCE: allAfrica

AUTHOR: Yonas Abiye

URL: Click here

DATE: 04/08/2007

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