Educating the mothers of today and the future is a way to reduce female genital mutilation. Pictured: Campaign in Somalia against female genital mutilation - which is a widespread problem in the country. Photo: AU UN IST PHOTO / David Mutua. Source: Flickr.


This is how the activists work to stop female genital mutilation

The pandemic has caused female genital mutilation to increase again in several parts of the world. Using various methods, activists from Egypt, Somalia and Guinea are fighting to spread knowledge about female genital mutilation and overcome the problem.

Genital mutilation is a global problem that is largely centered on some 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, according to FN. During the last the years have some of the countries where female genital mutilation occurs most, for example Egypt and Somalia, got stricter laws for this.

But the pandemic has affected the fight to ban female genital mutilation, according to Mariann Eriksson, Secretary General of Plan International Sweden.

- What has happened in the world is that it got a little better. Fewer and fewer girls were genitally mutilated, but then came the pandemic. Then we have had a setback, she says.

The pandemic has had an effect because girls no longer go to school to the same extent - and then there is a greater risk of being mutilated. The increase in genital mutilation during the pandemic can be seen to be related to reduced sources of income for families. Young girls have therefore become of economic value, then married girls provides money or goods.

Education leads the way

While female genital mutilation has statistically increased during the pandemic, there are those who continue to fight for change. Randa Fakhreldin, a gynecologist and activist from Egypt, believes that change is possible. It is mainly education that is important for young women to learn that genital mutilation can be harmful and that it violates their human rights. This is also evidenced by the Somali model, author and former UN ambassador against genital mutilation, Waris Dirie, om.

- Lack of education limits women, no matter where they are in the world. Only a strong, self-determined and financially independent woman will be confident enough to withstand the pressure of a society, says she.

Waris Dirie himself was genitally mutilated as a young man. By offering schooling for girls, she tries to ensure that more people do not experience what she was exposed to.

Educating young girls is a good approach for the children of the future, but parents also need education in the subject. The UN agency for sexual and reproductive health, UNFPA, therefore implemented the campaign "Dear Daughters" in Somalia last year. The campaign is aimed at today's mothers and that they should fight for their daughters' own right to health.

The pandemic causes men to join the fight

The pandemic also meant that men could join the fight against female genital mutilation. In Guinea, taxi drivers were recruited on mopeds to spread information about anti-genital mutilation. Men have thus been able to work and earn money without having to mutilate their daughters.

- If you consider female genital mutilation as a female issue, it minimizes the effect of this tradition. It is a violation of human rights; men must be involved in the fight against it, soger Guinean Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté, is one of the men to join the campaign against genital mutilation. 

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