A girl champions the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation in her community

A girl champions the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation in her community

Martha Tadesse
A girl champions the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation in her community
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022/Tadesse
03 June 2022

Asanti Bakaree (15) is a nine-grade student at Doba Secondary School, Oromia region, and she recalls the day when she wanted to get circumcised willingly.

"When I was 12 years old, two of my friends and I got a razor and went to the circumciser. We have heard people talk about female circumcision as a mandatory practice in our neighborhood and we believed it was something we should do as well," said Asanti.

Asanti and her friends went to a traditional circumciser but did not even bother telling their parents.

“My friends were the first to go in, and I was so frightened to see how much blood they lost. They were bleeding so much that I escaped the incident horrified and panicking. I just ran home and told my mother what happened. She asked me why I didn’t do it after I went all the way to get circumcised,” said Asanti.

"Like most community members in our kebele, I wanted to get my girls circumcised," Asanit's mother, Halima Abdulamix, said. “Hearing that she had gone to the circumciser with her friends encouraged me to push her even harder. She, on the other hand, refused. What she has witnessed shocked her, and then I stopped bothering her to get circumcised."

Asanti recognizes that going to the traditional circumciser was a mistake.

"It was not until I joined the gender club at school that I learned about the dangers of child marriage and female genital mutilation.  I'm grateful that I got away with being circumcised because I could not understand what I would have gone through if I have been circumcised. Not only I decided not to step foot ever again in the place where circumcision was taking place, but most importantly, I wanted to educate others to make sure they understood the risks associated with the practice and decided to never undergo through this harmful practice. For this reason, I would share everything learned at school and in the gender club with my mother".

Halima Abdulamix recounts how she became aware of the risks of harmful practices through her daughter.
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022/Tadesse

Halima Abdulamix recounts how she became aware of the risks of harmful practices through her daughter.

"Because female circumcision had been a common practice performed for decades, I also wanted my daughter to be circumcised. My girl has learned about child marriage and FGM at school and would tell me about it. She later encouraged me to participate in community conversations, where I learned even more about the risks of child marriage and female genital mutilation, as well as the reporting mechanisms in place. Because there is now adequate knowledge, the community has managed to rescue so many girls from the dangers of child marriage and FGM," said Halima.

"It was unacceptable for girls not to get circumcised. There was a widespread belief that every girl in our community had to be circumcised before marriage. However, people's attitudes have changed significantly. Currently, people are aware of the implications. I try to contribute as much as I can at school and in my community by spreading the message against FGM and child marriage. I hope these harmful practices are eliminated altogether," said Asanti.

In Doba woreda, the gender club is being implemented since 2020 by the Bureau of Education with the technical and financial support from UNICEF.

On behalf of the girls and women and their families and communities served by the Joint Programme, UNFPA and UNICEF would like to thank the following governments for their financial contributions: The European Union, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.