Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) On Decline In Senegal

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In the West African nation of  Senegal, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among younger women is trending downwards.

Senegal Map
Senegal Map

According to a report from the English and Wales based Charity 28 Too Many quoting data released in 2015 from the Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Demographique of Senegal and the Senega: Enquette Demographique et de Sante et de Sante 2015, the prevalence of FGM among women between the ages of 15 – 49 is 24.2%.

According to the group End FGM European Network FGM “comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

FGM which is carried out by traditional health practitioners and herbalists or community elders in Senegal is done on girls before they reach the age of 10 and around two thirds about 67.6% by the age of 5, according to the data used.

An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice said she
Ceremony in Senegal Announcing End to FGM

According to data, 50% of women between the ages of 15 – 49 were “cut, flesh removed.”

In the south of the country, FGM is widely carried out and accounts for 76.9% and about 6.9% in central Senegal.

Citing the prevalence of FGM across the West African nation, the data used notes that among various ethnic groups  “…the highest practicing group include the Mandigue 71.1%, Sonike 60.9%, Poular 50.7% and Diola 47.9%. The lowest prevalences are found among the Wolofs 1.3% and the Serers 1.1% citing low sample sizes. FGM prevalences among Animists is 44.8%, among Muslims 25% and 7.8% among Christians. 14.4% of women and 15.7% of men believe that FGM is a religious requirement.”

The practice of FGM shows a decline in women between the ages of 15-49 now at 24.2% compared to 28.2 in 2005 in Senegal. Data further shows a decline of the practice among younger women.

Legislation was passed in 1999 by the Senegalese Government which specifically sanctioned the practice of FGM.

International Practice of FGM

FGM In Africa
FGM In Africa

The United Nations says that FGM is practiced in various communities in the following African Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

In some western countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, it is reported that FGM is practiced among diaspora populations from places where the practice is common done.

However, there is an increase  effort to fight and eliminate the practice in Africa and Western countries including the formulation and enforcement of stringent legislation.

In April, 2017, the Voice of America reported that  “An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released … The U.S. Department of Justice said she “performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims.”

US-DOJ LOGO
US Department of Justice

The US Government says it considers FGM a “…serious human rights abuse, and a form of gender based violence and child abuse…”

Criminal consequences of performing or assisting in FGM  against US law is 5 years in jail and fines or both and may have serious immigration consequences for immigrants who are convicted.

Effects of FGM

Some of the most common problems associated with the practice of FGM include:

  • Severe bleeding, pain and shock which sometimes lead to death
  • Infection, which sometimes lead to death
  • Urination and menstrual obstruction
  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections and HIV
  • Mental health problems, including PTSD
  • Sexual dysfunction, including dyspareunia
  • Complications in pregnancy and childbirth, which sometimes lead to death

Videos courtesy of Al Jazeera

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

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West African Journal Magazine

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