A high rate of girls still mutilated in Cote d’Ivoire
UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire announces its strategy in Côte d’Ivoire to mark the International Day against female genital cutting (FGM)Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 9 February 2010 – "Though the trend is on the decrease, too many girls are still mutilated in Côte d’Ivoire" says Laetitia Bazzi, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire.
36 percent of girls/women between 15-49 years are currently victims of FGM against 44 percent in 1998. In the North and North-West, the number of victims reaches 88 percent, the number in the West being 73 percent.
"FGM is enshrined in the country’s cultural and religious beliefs. 70 percent of girls/women in the North-West believe that FGM is a normal practice that should be maintained" added Bazzi. UNICEF’s assistance strategy will help curb the extent of this practice that is harmful to women’s mental, maternal and sexual health.
A prohibitive law exists, adopted in 1998, but has not been enforced.
"We have sensitized populations over the years. We are not going to continue to risk the lives of girls and women for the sake of preserving our culture. We will start enforcing the law as we do with other criminals", said Ms Yao Euphrasie, Director of the Department of Equality and Gender Promotion of the Ministry of Family, Women and Social Affairs during the press briefing organized at UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire.
UNICEF’s strategic approach relies on the development of partnerships, on community mobilization including civil society, traditional and religious leaders and local NGOs and on capacity building.
The involvement of local protection committees is paramount for intense community sensitization activities to facilitate the change process of social norms.
With UNICEF’s support, 220 communities in high FGM prevalence areas are in the process of abandoning the practise collectively, while 205 others have already decided to stop this practice.
"This community commitment is a good example that should be replicated to rally communities one after another for total eradication of this practice", Bazzi suggested.
UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire is launching on 15th of February a Zero Tolerance Campaign against FGM. Throughout February, a series of official ceremonies of collective abandonment of FGM practice will be organized in 180 communities.
On 17th of February, a solemn ceremony will be arranged in the district of Marandallah to mark the collective abandonment of FGM practice.
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