First ladies from seven West African countries are meeting Monday in
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso for a conference on ways to end female circumcision. The practice, also known as female
genital mutilation is common in about 30 African countries despite national
laws against it.
Expected to attend the three-day conference are the first
ladies from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Togo.
Bahisimine Youl is coordinator with the Pan-African Film Festival known as
FESPACO. From the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, he told VOA the West African first ladies want to bring world attention to the
practice of Female Circumcision in the sub-region.
it's about how to eradicate female circumcision in the sub-region, how they can put together energy, how they can
synchronize energy because you know the phenomena in the sub-region is, I would
say cross-border," he said.
said the seven West African first ladies want to add their voices to the worldwide
condemnation of the practice of female genital mutilation.
they are against it, and in Burkina the law has been past against it. This
practice has been carried out by old ladies. But as you will know, it is, I
would say trans-bordor. They will just travel from one country to another just
to practice it because you know Burkina Faso shares border with about six
countries. So quite easily people can be moving," he said.
to some reports an estimated half of the women in Burkina Faso have undergone
female circumcision. Youl disputes the estimate. He also said the Burkinabe first
lady is not going against tradition by her opposition to the practice.
not that she's against tradition and even not half of the ladies are
circumcised, but it is the fact that Burkina Faso has been the leader in this
fight against female circumcision," Youl said.
also disputes the suggestion by some that the growing opposition to female
circumcision is western driven. Youl said the opposition to circumcision is due
largely to concerns about its health hazard.
are really fighting against it because they have seen some of the bad effects
of it, not that they believe it's a western idea, but they know that there are
some very bad and negative consequences. The practice itself is done in very
good condition. I mean they will be cutting 15 or 20 small girls with the same
blade, which is very bad, definitely not healthy,"