Preventing female genital mutilation

by LKO, 2015/04/23

These are frightening data: According to official declarations, there are 125 million girls and women suffering from the consequences of female genital mutilation worldwide. The majority of the countries in which this procedure is still practiced meanwhile have militated against the painful and dangerous mutilation of female genitalia. However, the reality is quite different. Because of pretended social obligations and traditional ideas, three million girls per year are still in danger of becoming victims of this brutal intervention.

One of the countries in which the procedure of female genital mutilation has been practiced nearly all over the country until these days, is the East-African state Somalia. According to a report of the children’s help organization UNICEF, more than 90 percent of all Somalian girls and women have been mutilated. The refugee camp Melkadida, in which humedica has run a health center since 2011, is no exception to this. With directed educational training humedica is campaigning for the abolition of this cruel practice.

Together with the local help organization PAPDA humedica is doing extensive trainings for former circumcisers and midwives. In a one-week training the dangers and consequences of female genital mutilation is being explained to the women and they also receive elementary knowledge about the correct attendance of childbirth. Because of their role the midwives and circumcisers meet high esteem among their community. Their knowledge is accepted and applied.

“The point is to sensitize the women in this very difficult topic. We want them to become aware of the side effects of circumcisions and that they question the procedure. Only by changing traditional ideas and knowledge about alleged alternatives, this tradition can be stopped”, project leader, Linda Zimmermann explains the background of the work in Melkadida.

Moreover, the trainings also treat the topic attendance of childbirth with already circumcised women. In comparison, pregnant women who have been circumcised suffer more often of complications like an increased loss of blood or run also a higher risk of child or maternal mortality.

The young Somalian Fatum is one of 28 participants of the current humedica training. At her work as a midwife in the hospital of the refugee administration ARRA she nearly exclusively meets circumcised women:

“The training helps me much for my work as a midwife. I have learned to monitor the contractions and to recognize the different signs and symptoms of complications. Now I also know much more about birth control. Now I can inform the women, who come to see me, about the topics circumcision, birth control or size of the family”, she tells us after the training.

Her colleague Rukiya also comes from Somalia and has previously practiced circumcisions of sometimes very young girls herself. Meanwhile she has turned her back on this cruel tradition and is now supporting the educational training work in the refugee camp: “Once again, the training has shown me the serious side effects and consequences of female genital mutilation. This will help me to do better work amongst the Somalian women in the future.”

Luckily she is no longer alone with this opinion. Also the other participants have a different view on circumcision after the training and proudly present their certificates.

It is an important step into the right direction, but it will need more training yet to put an end to this deeply rooted tradition. humedica continues their struggle for a human treatment of girls and women. Please support this commitment with your donation. Thank you very much!

Note: humedica runs the medical emergency relief intervention thanks to the support of the Foreign Office of Germany since 2011.

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