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 May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid