Côte d’Ivoire: Nine Women Convicted of Female Genital Mutilation in Landmark Ruling
Friday, August 10, 2012 9:25 AM

In 1998 the Côte d’Ivoire passed a law banning female genital mutilation (FGM). However, the law was not applied until February of this year, when a court in the northern town of Katiola convicted nine women of mutilating thirty girls between the ages of 10 and 15.
In July the court sentenced the women, aged 46 to 91 years old, to one year in prison and a fine of approximately $100. However, in light of their ages, the court determined that the women will not actually serve any jail time. Anti-FGM campaigners protested this decision, arguing that the women should serve, at minimum, a token sentence to send a strong message that perpetrators will be punished.
The World Health Organization defines Female Genital Mutilation as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”  The process is often very painful, can lead to serious, long lasting complications, and provides no health benefits.
The Cote d’Ivoire remains one of the countries with the highest prevalence of FGM in Africa, despite the 1998 ban on the practice. According to UNICEF, 36 percent of the country’s women have been excised. In the north and northwestern parts of the country this figure is closer to 88 percent. Those who refuse to undergo the procedure continue to face stigma and ridicule within many communities in the region.

Compiled from: Fulgence Zamblé, Punish Those Carrying Out FGM, Say Côte d’ Ivoire Campaigners, Inter Press Service (July 27, 2012); World Health Organization, Female Genital Mutilation Fact Sheet (February 2012).