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FGM Practitioners To Serve Prison Terms

Practitioners and all parties that consent to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are liable to imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than 10 years as stipulated in the Constitution Amendment Act 741.

Mrs Chris Dadzie, Policy Analyst for Gender and Human Rights of ISODEC said the Act which came into being on August 7, 2007 changed the name from female circumcision, which predisposes an ordinary circumcision to Female Genital Mutilation which showed the gravity of torture that the victims went through.

She said the amendment was as a result of hard work of women’s groups that fought for the elimination of FGM which was considered a violation of human rights and a violation of the image of women and that offenders would be dealt with according to the law.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as constituting all procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non therapeutic reason.

Mrs Dadzie, who was speaking at an FGM workshop for media practitioners on Thursday, said the 1992 Constitution, the Criminal Code and the Children’s Act made it a responsibility for the state and parents to ensure that they provided the children education, shelter, health-care and protect them from all sorts of harm.

She said the 1979 Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) also talked against violence against women and discrimination against women

Mrs Dadzie said since FGM was basically cultural, there was the need to translate the laws into practical policies as well as making the institutional arrangements necessary to ensure that the practice was totally eliminated in Ghana. Currently Ghana had an FMG prevalence rate of 9-15 per cent.

Dr. Isaac Koranteng of the Obstetrics and Gyaenacology Department of the KLorle-Bu Teaching Hospital who touched on the effects of FGM said 99 percent of patients who were victims of FGM that reported to the hospital for delivery had to go through caesarian section since the baby could not come out through natural means as a result of damage to the genital region.

Other effects are deaths as a result of shock and bleeding, infections, fistulas, and damage to the baby’s brain due to prolonged and difficult labour.

Mrs Florence Ali, President of the Ghanaian Association for Women Welfare (GAWW), organizers of the workshop, said the practice took place in secluded areas in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions and that migrants from countries like Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Niger practice FGM in Ghana.

She said FGM covered a spectrum of procedures including Clitorisdectomy (partial or total removal of the clitoris), Excision, where the clitoris and labia minora were removed, Infibulation, that was the complete removal of clitoris and inner surface of the labia majora and the unclassified referring to the application of other substances to the genitals.

The major reason for going through FGM was to reduce the sensitivity of the woman to sexual intercourse to make her faithful to her husband.

SOURCE: Myjoyonline.com

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DATE: 20/01/2008

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