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2012 Ethiopia: Evaluation on the Progress in Abandoning FGM/C and Child Marriage in Self-Declared Woredas



Author: Dr. Lulit Mitik and Dr. Emezat Hailu

Executive summary

Background:

Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) refer to practices and cultures which affect the health and well-being of women. HTPs are believed to be caused by the inferior position given to girls and women in society and therefore are another manifestation of discrimination against women.

HTPs have been widely practiced in Ethiopia. According to a study by the Ethiopian National Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (NCTPE, 1997), there are over 80 kinds of HTPs practiced in different parts of the Country. According to a baseline survey study report, these practices have significant adverse impacts on the physical as well as mental health of the victims. Among the widely practiced HTPs are Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), child marriage, marriage by abduction and wife beating.

In order to eliminate HTPs, the Ethiopian government has come up with various legal and policy frameworks and institutional structures that support the implementation of these frameworks.

Due the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in terms of the adoption of successful strategies such as broad based participation and targeted interventions, encouraging results are beginning to be registered. However, it should well be noted that the problem is still quite persistent in the country, more in some parts than in others. Recognizing this problem, it is imperative that all concerned stakeholders scale up their efforts and most importantly draw on the lessons learned from the ongoing programs. In light of this, the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA), UNICEF and other UN agencies embarked on this study to provide evidence and learn lessons on the practice of FGM/C, child marriage, marriage by abduction and wife beating and the strategies adopted and implemented to combat such practices in the selected woredas so as to scale up good practices and ultimately contribute towards the adoption of a ‘National HTP Plan’ for the country.

Purpose/Objective:

The objective of the study is to evaluate the progress in abandoning FGM/C and child marriage in self-declared woredas of Ethiopia. More specifically, the assignment aims at providing evidence on the extent of FGM/C so as to validate the claims of abandonment of FGM/C in the woredas that declared abandonment of FGM/C and analyzing strategies that have been successful so far to inform decision for up scaling. The evaluation covered the pre-selected woredas which have declared the abandonment of FGM/C practices during the commissioning of the study. These 10 woredas are found within three regional states: Afar, Benishanguel Gumuz and SNNPR and the capital city Addis Ababa.

Methodology:

A set of quantitative and qualitative instruments were prepared and employed to collect data complemented by a thorough review of documentation. A total of 1275 households were covered in the 10 selected woredas. In each household, one adult man, one adult woman and one teenager were interviewed using the quantitative questionnaire. The following stakeholders were approached to conduct the evaluation: mothers and/or primary care givers of circumcised daughters, teenage girls, women above 19, men above 19, community leader/elders, religious leaders, woreda Officials, members of law enforcement organs including the police, prosecutors and justice administrators: judges, MOWCYA officials and regional BOWCYAs, UNICEF staff in Addis including in regions where the woredas are located, members of community protection mechanisms, and Health Extension Workers as well as staff of fixed health facilities.

Different sets of indicators were employed for the evaluation. For establishing trends in the practice of the selected HTPs, the study utilized the following indicators: knowledge, attitude and practice in regards to these forms of HTPs among the respondents, health related indicators including data and testimonials from health facilities and health workers and finally indicators related to the administration of the law and/or the declaration such as reporting to the police, cases by public prosecutors and similarly reports to other parts of the government machinery such as the Women, Children and Youth Affairs offices.

Findings and Conclusions:

Overall, findings have highlighted strategies that have proven to be efficient in fighting FGM/C. Although it is probably too early to ascertain a decline in the practice of FGM/C, there are encouraging results in terms of awareness creation and behavioral change to some extent. A more thorough monitoring and assessment is required to follow-up on the progress made towards fighting FGM/C. The encouraging results identified through this study will last only if there is concerted effort and strong commitment from all stakeholders and if strategies that work are sustained and implemented on a regular basis with a wider coverage, in particular in remote areas. This also applies for the three other forms of HTPs.



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