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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid