One of the tough things adoptive parents might face when adopting a little girl from Ethiopia is the possibility that she may have undergone female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation. This practice is widespread across Ethiopia, among all people groups and all religions.
The World Health Organization estimates that 6,000 girls a day are genitally mutilated across Africa. There are different degrees to which this is done. The least extreme form is known as clitoridectomy, which is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. The most extreme form is infibulation, which is the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching together of the two sides of the vulva, leaving only a very small vaginal opening.
This is thought to protect a girl’s virtue, since uncicumcised girls are supposedly more likely to be promiscuous. This thought pattern is so engrained in the culture, especially in rural areas, that families will often not consent for their sons to marry a girl who has not been circumcised. But it results in infection, much pain, terrible scarring and dificulty in childbrth.
You may have seen a show on Oprah detailing the terrible suffering that endure because of this practice, and the Fistula Hospital in Addis who helps women heal from this. I will share more about this in a future post.
According to a report by the US Department of State (Ethiopia: Report on Female Genital Mutilation)
In 1997/1998 the National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia (NCTPE) carried out a national baseline survey to determine the prevalence of this practice. Some 44,000 people were interviewed in a study reaching 65 of Ethiopia’s 80 ethnic groups (urban and rural) in all ten regions of the country. The published results show 72.7 percent of the female population have undergone one of these procedures.
The Ethiopian government has begun to publicly condemn this practice. They are educating children by teaching and handing out pamphlets in the schools. In Addis Ababa, circumcision is reported to be on the decline, and is being rejected by young educated people especially. Young Africans Reject Genital Mutilation- 01/09/03
By Mona Eltahawy-A young Ethiopian couple’s wedding became a demonstration against female genital mutilation.
However in the rural areas expecially, it is still very much a problem. FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IN AFRICA:
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