Taking Action against Female Genital Mutilation

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As we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mulitation, 6th of February, Humana People to People is sharing with you one of its projects which is responding to the same in Guinea Bissau.


Hundreds of thousands of girls and women have been victims of Female Genital Mutilation in Guinea-Bissau. The practice is so deeply rooted in tradition that many people believe it is a religious obligation. 


Understanding Female Genital Mutilation – (FGM)

As part of a traditional ceremony initiating girls into womanhood, Female Genital Mutilation involves cutting away part or all of the external female genitalia, which can create irreversible, lifelong health risks. The consequences include psychosexual and psychological problems, sexual dysfunction and difficulties with childbirth.


Immediate consequences of Female Genital Mutilation include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death. 


All young girls who undergone FGM experience pain and bleeding as a consequence of such a procedure. The event itself is traumatic as girls are held down during the procedure. Risk and complications increase with the type of FGM and are more severe and prevalent with infibulations.


What we are doing about it

ADPP Guinea Bissau is actively taking a stand against the Female Genital Mutilation practice in the country. The 6 months Sexual and Reproductive Health program, community action, was carried out in Quinara region. The program aimed at combating Female Genital Mutilation and Early Marriage focusing on prevention of risk situations and on promoting gender equality. 


To develop the program, the ADPP Guinea Bissau activists received an intensive training about Social Construction of Gender and Equality Principles, Human Rights, Gender Violence, Early Marriage, Techniques for Social Mediation and Identification of Risk Situations, Causes and Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation and Sexual and Reproductive Health. 


In Guinea-Bissau, Female Genital Mutilation is mainly performed on children and adolescents between 6 and 14 years of age – though it has also reportedly been performed on infants in recent years. 


There is widespread agreement that considerable work lies ahead, particularly to raise awareness on why this harmful custom should be ended. 


The project developed the following activities to keep reinforcing consciousness:


  • Training of the project’s team in gender equality and women’s health.
  • Meetings and debates with women’s groups to increase their awareness about human rights and the instruments, mechanisms and legal services to protect their rights. Those meetings were held with the participation of 427 people, out of which 171 were men aged between 19 and 50 years old.
  • 8 awareness campaigns in the communities of Paiunco, São Martinho Gã Ture, Madina de Baixo, Madina Lala, Gã Tumane, São Cunda, Kã de Estrada, Gã Cumba and Empada run by ADPP’s team, were organized by activists and local leaders. The main topics addressed were women’s discrimination, human rights, gender violence and sexual and reproductive rights, with the participation of an audience of 1 056 people (out of which 57% were women and 43% men).
  • 3 radio campaigns with 64 transmissions about women’s rights in National Radio and Papagaio Community Radio were carried out.
  • Mobilization and training of 24 volunteers (women and men) accompanied by ADPP “Activists for Women Rights” with the purpose of creating awareness in the communities to abandon Female Genital Mutilation and Early Marriage practices.


As ADPP Guinea Bissau implemented the project it has noticed an increase in general knowledge among the members of community in understanding the need to safe-guard the integrity and right of the young girls. 


The support for women who are victims of violence, mutilation and early marriage increased in Quinara Region, and the understanding of its causes and consequences improved within the communities. 


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February 2017