I was born in an era where Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was prevalent and some young women from Upper West and East region of Ghana found it a privilege to participate in these rituals.
Growing up I read about the adverse effect of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at my elementary stage and what government and NGOs were doing to eradicate such practices. The knowledge I acquired then about FGM practices was just for examination purpose; this knowledge was not impactful psychologically and emotionally on me until I started asking questions about what really is FGM.
After getting feedback from the series of questions I posed and researching intensively into the matter I finally realized that FGM is a whole lot more than I know and it has lasting physical and mental consequences on victims and therefore needs to be discussed so that girls and women no longer have to suffer in silence
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as defined by Wikipedia is the removal of some or all the external female genitalia. The procedure carried out on girls ranging from childhood to puberty stage. It involves cutting, piercing or sewing to close all or some part of the genitals.
In the olden days, genital cutting was seen as an initiation rite for girls, to prepare them for their future and the whole community participated in a ceremonial way. The initiation done mostly by women on girls with the aim to control their sexual desires and to prevent promiscuity. The immediate consequences of these initiations include sudden shock, bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, infection among others on victims.
In 1994 the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act inserted Article 69A to the COA 1960 to prohibit ‘female circumcision’ in Ghana after a series of lobbying from NGOs. In 2007 this was further amended to ‘female genital mutilation’ and penalties were increased.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; the Department of Social Development; the Domestic Violence Unit of the Police; the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice; and the National Commission on Civic Education. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection also provide governmental support services to end FGM.
NGOs such as UNICEF and Ghanaian Association for Women’s Welfare (GAWW) are also creating awareness of the FGM adverse on women and also provide support for FMG victims.
All this has contributed to the decrease in FGM practice, however the practice still persist but with younger .It is believe that the younger they are the less likely they are to resist, report or discuss the issue with friends.
The cross-border activity of perpetrators of FGM is alarming, nowadays most Ghanaian parents cross the borders to Togo and Burkina Faso to cut their children and bring them back to Ghana to avoid being apprehended
Additionally, the interference by politicians and community leaders to prevent persecution of perpetrators makes it difficult to enforce the law
For FGM to be eradicated completely the government has to take a holistic approach. If this approach is to be used then it means the education on FGM should start from the home and in the classrooms starting from nursery and kindergarten level and everything should be discussed. Every child, male or female should be educated on their rights in a practical or demonstrable way to help the children visualize it in their mind.
Again for FGM to be eradicated it means that the security agencies need to work on their credibility level such that when cases are reported and they are acted on and victims are protected.
Chiefs and queen mothers in rural areas should also be encouraged to hold evening fire gatherings with youths of the town whether the practice is prevalence or not and a governmental monetary scheme should be instituted to award regions, towns and villages that performs well in delivering FGM awareness and report perpetrators to the appropriate authorities.