Ten Villages in Western Niger Denounce Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 1:45 PM

Ten villages in the Tillabery region of western Niger have publicly vowed to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).  “We have decided to definitively put an end to female genital mutilation in our villages and to continue sensitizing neighboring villages so they also give up the practice,” said M. Babobou Pana, leader of one of the villages.

The UNICEF Representative in Niger, Akhil Iyer, expressed support for this public declaration, saying, “[FGM] is seen by Nigerian authorities as a severe violation of the rights of women and young girls...[having] a negative impact on their reproductive health and their ability to go to school.”

Forced genital mutilation is commonly performed on young girls without anesthesia. It can result in prolonged bleeding, risk of HIV infection, infertility and increased risk at childbirth.  Niger has outlawed the practice since 2003, contributing to a significant decline in FGM. A government survey released last year claimed a decrease by more than half between 1998 and 2006, from 5.8% to 2%. However, these statistics conceal great geographic and ethnic disparities.  In the regions of Tillabery, Diffa and Niamey, in the western part of Niger near the border with Mali, about 66% of women have endured the practice.

UNICEF has worked with Niger’s Committee on Traditional Practices (CONIPRAT), an NGO, to establish a positive social-change strategy in the 10 villages of the Tillabery region. The negative health impact of certain behaviors, like FGM, have been discussed throughout the 13,000 member community.  This approach, which promotes dialogue between women and men and between generations, will be replicated in 10 different villages in Niger this year.

Compiled from:  Ten Villages unite to say ‘no’ to female genital mutilation/cutting in Niger,  UNICEF, April 14, 2009;  African villages denounce female circumcision, cnn.com/world, April 5, 2009.