Legal Framework To Fight Female Genital Mutilation

The government of Cameroon has been actively involved in efforts to combat Female Genital Mutilation since the mid-1980. But the country doubled its efforts in 1999 with the adoption of the National Action Plan against Female Genital Mutilation and the putting in place of other strategies to combat the ill.

According to the United Nation figures, at least 200 million girls and women are suffering the consequences of female genital mutilation, with girls of 14 and younger representing 44million. UNICEF has called to an end of this phenomenon by 2030 and has place its focus on fifteen African countries including Cameroon. The UNICEF Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey 2004 indicates that, almost 50% of women under 5 and 9 years of age have undergone female genital mutilation, concerning the type of practice, 85% of women have had fleshed removed from their genital area, while an additional 4% have had their genital area nicked without removing any flesh. The study further portrays that 1% of the female population have been subjected to female genital mutilation.

With this uncomfortable statistics at hand, Cameroon has been making steady strides to combat all procedures that involve the altering or injuring of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. This started since the mid 80’s and in 1999, Cameroon adopted the National Action Plan against female genital mutilation.

Through the Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family, support have been granted to male and female excision practitioners for their socio-economic reconversion. Local committees have been set up to fight against the phenomenon in areas of high prevalence like the Manyu, Logone and Chari Divisions of the South West and Extreme Nord regions of the country respectively. This is to ensure proximity surveillance. At the level of the Regional Delegation of Women Empowerment and the Family, experts have been assigned to work hand in gloves with civil society organizations in carrying out sensitization campaigns known as “zero-tolerance” to raise awareness in villages, cities, universities, media houses and most especially during cultural manifestations. This is meant to educate the population on why it’s no longer important to indulge in the practice.

Besides, the Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seal, Amadou Ali in an advocacy workshop held at the American Embassy said the practice of Female genital mutilation is prohibited in Cameroon and that during the revision of the Penal Code, all will be done to make sure that the law against female genital mutilation is put in place and enforced. Some parliamentarians who were present, equally stood for a law against female genital mutilation, for they agree it is a practice that compounds unspeakable violence and pains against the woman and girl child in Cameroon. The parliamentarians equally stressed that lobbying activities are ongoing for a law against female genital mutilation and an amendment of section 277 of the Penal Code is urgent so that it can cover all types of female genital mutilation in Cameroon.

Cynthia Efopa

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