Africa can end 'child abuse' of FGM by 2035: activists

Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:00am EDT
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By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Africa can end female genital mutilation (FGM) in 20 years, activists said on Friday as they launched a continent-wide campaign, calling the ancient ritual a form of child abuse aimed at controlling women's sexuality.

FGM, a practice involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, can cause hemorrhage, shock, complications in childbirth, fistula and death.

"I believe that FGM will come to an end in this generation," said Agnes Pareyio, a Maasai woman who runs a rescue center for girls in her community facing the cut.

"Unless the violence stops, we will not rest."

Some 30 million African girls are at risk of FGM over the next decade. This includes tens of thousands of girls from diaspora communities in Europe and North America who are often taken abroad to be cut.

In Kenya, 27 percent of women undergo FGM, although it reaches 98 percent in some communities, such as the Somali.

"FGM is child abuse," said Leyla Hussein, a British FGM survivor of Somali origin. "It is one of the worst forms of violence a woman or a girl will ever experience."

As FGM is traditionally performed without anesthetic, elderly women sometimes have to sit on the writhing girls, breaking their bones, said Guyo Jaldesa, an obstetrician and lecturer at the University of Nairobi.   Continued...