News / Africa

Cameroon, WHO Push for End to Female Circumcision

FILE - A mother carrying an infant on her back attends a meeting of women from several communities eradicating female genital mutilation, in Diabougo, Senegal.
FILE - A mother carrying an infant on her back attends a meeting of women from several communities eradicating female genital mutilation, in Diabougo, Senegal.
Cameroon and the World Health Organization (WHO) have a launched a campaign against female circumcision. The practice, which critics call female genital mutilation (FGM), is still practiced in the Central African nation for commercial reasons and traditional belief that it makes a woman faithful to her husband.

It was 5:00 am when I arrived at the Nkolbisson neighborhood in Yaounde, where a lady popularly known as Ma Julie secretly does female circumcision. She already has a nine-year-old girl brought by her mother to be circumcised.

"My mother brought me here for treatment," said the girl.

Ma Julie does not want me to come closer to her traditional operating area, but I can see two pairs of scissors and razorblades in a dish three meters away. She told VOA she does not use the blades on her clients in the afternoon when temperatures are high because it can lead to excessive bleeding.

"This is something that has always existed in our tradition. Our parents did it, our grandparents did it and our great grandparents promoted this act," said Ma Julie. "When you remove those parts of a woman she eventually remains faithful to her husband."

"Don't you want a faithful wife?" she asked.

Economic activity

Cameroon's Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family says female circumcision is an economic activity and a source of livelihood to some of the promoters. The ministry says that is why it is giving money to the promoters to change their activities.  

Ma Julie received $100, but said she makes more than that in a month. She said her clients give her a chicken and $10 for each circumcision, and now the government is asking them to stop the practice. We shall not, she concludes.

Cameroon's Minister of Women's Empowerment and the Family, Marie Theres Abena Ondoua, said she encountered similar arguments from others who perform circumcisions.

She said when they argue with those who promote FGM, they ask you how they will live without it, and that is why you must give enough assistance for promoters to stop the activity, since you can not ask them to abandon the practice without giving them money to live on. So we are looking for funding to ensure the conversion of promoters.

Traditional health practioners

The government of Cameroon and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimate that one percent of women aged 15 to 49 have had their outer genitals removed.  

But these figures, collected from conventional health centers, do not reflect the true situation in a country where 80 percent of the population depends on traditional health practitioners, said Professor Verkijika Fannso, lecturer of history at the University of Yaounde One.  

He said it is difficult to stop the practice because of traditional beliefs that it makes a woman faithful.

"Some people believe that if you do not do that to a young growing up girl, she might grow up to become promiscuous, some believe that she might grow up not to have children, and some believe that she might not be respected," said Fannso. "It is the fear of those traditional beliefs that make people of those societies begin to do that practice of female genital mutilation."

An estimated 140 million girls and women around the globe have undergone circumcisions.

According to medical experts, the practice causes severe pain and has several long-term consequences, including difficulties in childbirth.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Paul from: Huntington, WV
June 27, 2014 8:10 PM
The WHO is losing a lot of credibility with me lately.
Why would they choose the one african nation with the lowest fgm rate, to fight this battle of theirs.
And why are they funneling money and resources for male genital mutilation in countries where the circumcised men have higher HIV rates than the uncircumcised men.
Hard to not believe it's a simple case of dollars here and doctors who have lost all sense of medical ethics and scientific logic.


by: Ron Low from: Chicago
June 20, 2014 12:16 AM
Luckily 94% of the world has already outlawed female genital cutting. We need to insist on enforcement.

In no place are males protected from forced genital cutting. We need to insist on equal rights.


by: paul k james from: huntington, wv
June 17, 2014 11:51 PM
While I condemn female circumcision as well as male, I would fight against female circumcision if there were not fight for male.
This is a hideous practice. Our parents and elders were never meant to play with the genitals of their children.
These are made traditions. They are evil.
The want to meddle in the genitals of little children is against all that is real in nature.
I will stand by anyone who wants to fight against the physical violation of innocent babies male or female.
We are one.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid