18Clitorectomy - Genital Mutilation Common in 28 African...

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Genital Mutilation Common in 28 African & Middle Eastern Nations http://wakingbear.com/africa1.htm Clitorectomy In Man, on the Ivory Coast of Africa, Marthe Bleuis is a 12 year old, shy and pretty little girl with a heart-shaped face. She enjoys being casually dressed in flip-flops and a lacy white pinafore trimmed in pink satin. But already her body is taking on the soft, rounded shape of womanhood. And these days she wants more than anything to do what she believes stands between her and being grown up. She wants to have her genitals cut off. In the lament of pubescent girls everywhere, she says that all her friends are getting ahead of her. Their parents have sent them into the woods where village women "cut what is down there," she said, gesturing to her lap. After the rite, the girls are showered with gifts of money, jewelry and cloth. Their families honor them with sumptuous celebrations where hundreds of relatives and friends feast on goat, cow and chicken. "It is the custom, and I want to respect it," she said. The tradition of female genital cutting is woven into the everyday life of the Yacouba people here, just as it is for hundreds of ethnic groups in a wide band of 28 countries across Africa. In Man, it is part of a girl's dreams of womanhood, a father's desire to show off with a big party and a family's way of proving its conformity to social convention. The rising chorus of international condemnation of this age-old practice, voiced in recent years from the podiums of United Nations assemblies in Vienna, Cairo and Beijing, echoes only faintly in places like Man, a tourist town deep in the interior, surrounded by the craggy, cloud-shrouded Toura mountains. On the coast, in the cosmopolitan hubbub of Abidjan, and in other parts of Africa, the debate about female genital cutting is slowly moving into the public arena. Only in the last few years have African nations even begun measuring the prevalence of genital cutting as part of national health surveys or in other research. In the Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic, 2 out of 5 women have been cut. In Togo, it is one in 8. In the Sudan -- the only country that already had reliable national estimates -- it is 9 out of 10. In Mali, it is 93 percent. "It looks like women in most countries are nearly as likely to undergo these procedures as their mothers and grandmothers," said Dara Carr, a researcher at Macro International
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Inc., the Maryland-based company that is assisting the countries in conducting the health surveys. "But there are some seeds of change." In the Sudan, the prevalence of the practice has dropped from 96 percent to 89 percent over the course of a decade. And there has been a shift toward a less severe form of genital cutting. In Togo, a survey found that half of the mothers who had been cut wanted to spare their daughters. And while three-quarters of the women in Mali favor continuing the practice, a majority in the Central African Republic want to end it. But what women want and what they have the power to accomplish are very different
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18Clitorectomy - Genital Mutilation Common in 28 African...

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