Kenya and Eritrea Taking Action against FGM
Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:36 PM

Awareness campaigns about the harmful effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are gaining attention in some areas of Africa and the Middle East.  Recent actions by leaders in Eritrea and Kenya are testament to changing attitudes about the harmful traditional practice.

In Eritrea, government officials enacted a law banning the practice.  It provides that anyone involved in FGM will be fined and imprisoned.  The action comes following a campaign by the National Union of Eritrean Women. 

In Northeastern Kenya, Muslim religious leaders are incorporating lessons about the harmful effects of FGM into their Friday prayers.  These include teachings that Islam does not require girls to be cut, a claim often used to justify the practice.  This action is  a result of a campaign by the Muslim Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya that has been raising awareness in the area for a decade.  

Despite these efforts, the message is not reaching everyone.  Some believe that FGM is necessary to control girls sexuality.  In addition, several countries have laws banning the practice, even though it is rarely or never enforced.  Despite barriers, aid workers see promise in recent developments that the message is reaching certain populations and the practice will eventually disappear.

Compiled from: "Religious Leaders Join Anti-FGM Fight," IRIN report, 30 March 2007; "Eritrea bans female circumcision," BBC News, 4 April 2007.