Ethiopia: FGM Outlawed in Two Pastoral Communities
Wednesday, February 02, 2011 9:50 PM

Two pastoralist communities in northeastern Ethiopia have banned female genital mutilation, citing serious health concerns and cultural contradiction, according to a local official. Amibara and Awash-Fentale, both in the Afar region of Ethiopia, have outlawed the practice.

“We are very happy to declare the abandonment of this horrible act on women,” said Fatuma Ali, head of women’s affairs in the Amibara district. "We will fight until we secure 100 percent abandonment of the practice from our region.”

The ban comes 10 years after various UN agencies, NGOs and the regional government strengthened efforts to discourage the practice. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 91% of women in the Afar region undergo one of the most severe forms of FGM.

“This is what we have been seeking for a long time,” added Fatuma. “We have devoted all our resources and human power to stop this violation of the rights of women in our region. We are happy that our elders and the community agreed to stop this malpractice.”

Female genital mutiliation is illegal under Ethiopian criminal law, with a penalty of five to twenty years in prison. Afar has also adopted this law, announcing a new proclamation to further protect women.

The decision to ban the practice in both districts comes from the influence of religious and clan leaders, local officials and former circumcisers, according to UNICEF. 

Compiled from: IRIN, ETHIOPIA: Pastoralists battling FGM/C (January 28, 2011).