Niger: Villagers Promise to Bring an End to Child Marriage and FGM
Monday, May 20, 2013 11:45 AM

In a government-sponsored public ceremony last week in Makalondi, Niger, villagers vowed to bring an end to female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice still prevalent among certain groups in the region. The estimated 14,000 participants also promised to end child marriage. Twenty communities were represented in the ceremony. The ceremony was part of a larger movement by the Niger government and non-governmental organizations (including UNICEF) to crack down on such practices. FGM has been illegal in Niger since 2003 but UNICEF estimates that the practice is still widely practiced.
Although the national rate has dropped in the past decade, FGM remains a serious problem in the region, particularly among the Gourmantche ethnic group, among others. Child marriage is also prevalent, with the Niger government estimating the rate of marriage for girls under the age of 15 at approximately 38 percent. The two practices overlap; ending child marriage, encouraging female education, and decreasing poverty in the region may help ensure that rates of FGM continue to decrease. The United Nations is also involved in efforts to reduce FGM and adopted a resolution last year calling for a ban on the practice that has affected roughly 140 million women and girls worldwide (World Health Organization estimate).
Compiled from: Massalatchi, Abdoulaye, Niger villagers take mass public vow to end female genital mutilation, Reuters (May 16, 2013).