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FGM

When culture harms the girls

A girl prepares to wash clothes at the MSF Holland hospital laundry in Galcayo South in Puntland, Somalia. Women and children are particularly hard hit with one in twelve women dying during childbirth and one in seven children dying before their first bir
A girl prepares to wash clothes at the MSF Holland hospital laundry in Galcayo South in Puntland, Somalia (Siegfried Modola/MSF)

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FGM is a practice that violates the basic human rights of women and girls and seriously compromises their health. Nevertheless, among communities that practise FGM it is a highly valued tradition, making eradication difficult.

Nevertheless, there are also success stories. As individuals become better informed about the negative impacts of FGM, there has been a reduction in the practice and today there are few communities in which 100 percent of girls and women are circumcised.

Local organisations are working to eradicate the custom in many communities, and are achieving a higher level of success because they are able to communicate more easily with the people, whereas foreigners may appear to be ignorantly judging their traditions.

Over the last two decades, many countries have designed legal frameworks that criminalise FGM and protect women and girls who challenge the status quo, forcing those who continue to advocate it to reconsider their posiWhen culture harms the girls - the globalisation of female genital mutilationtion and actions. In many cases, communities have fully or partially abandoned the practice in favour of non-FGM initiation ceremonies.

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