Yemen: New Law Needed to Ban Female Genital Mutilation
Monday, February 22, 2010 2:35 PM

18 February 2010

Despite the existing law, which prohibits health workers from performing female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice continues to be carried out. “Nine years after the ban we see that it works the opposite of what was intended,” said Wafa Ahmad Ali, a leader of the Sanaa-based Yemen Women’s Union (YWU). “Now instead of going to the hospital where the tools are at least clean, FGM is carried out at home.” (IRIN News)

The Ministry of Human Rights supports a new study on the prevalence of FGM and has indicated that if the results prove that the practice is still being performed, they will push for a new law to be passed within the next four years.

A study conducted in 2001 by the Ministry of Health in coordination with the Women’s National Committed indicated that FGM was particularly widespread in Yemen’s five coastal governorates. In some areas, such as Hodeidah, Hadhramaut, and al-Maharah, 96 percent of women had undergone FGM.

While the government has issued laws against FGM, they have not been adequately enforced and thus have allowed the practice to continue being carried out privately. Many blame the practice’s prevalence on the attitude towards women in Yemen. In 2009, the country was rated by the World Economic Forum as having the world’s largest gender disparity for the third consecutive year. In a joint statement issued on February 6, the international day against FGM, UNFPA and UNICEF declared: “The practice persists because it is sustained by social perceptions, including that girls and their families will face shame, social exclusion and diminished marriage prospects if they forego cutting. These perceptions can, and must, change.” (IRIN News)

“At the heart of this problem is the lack of equality between men and women,” said YWU’s leader Ali. “We are struggling for our rights in Yemen. Personally I am angry, but we need to take baby steps when it comes to changing Yemeni society.” (IRIN News)

Compiled from: “Yemen: New FGM/C Law Possible ‘Within Four Year’ – Minister,” IRIN News (10 February 2010).