Senegal’s Council of Ministers has approved a draft law to ban female circumcision which affects 700,000 women in the country, UNICEF officials told IRIN today. A petition advocating the ban was brought before the council, which approved the draft yesterday, by village women fighting to end the age-old practice. The draft has to be approved by the National Assembly before becoming law. Under the draft published in an official communique, AFP reported, people engaging in female circumcision - the removal of the clitoris and sometimes the labia - would be imprisoned for five years.
An effort to make the rural population aware of the dangers of the practice was begun two years ago by the NGO, Tostan, under a UNICEF-supported social and literacy project in Malicounda, a village 70 km east of Dakar, the Senegalese capital.