“Many girls and women in Ethiopia continue to be affected by FGM and have to live with the consequences of this harmful practice, but change is beginning to happen,” says Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, Executive Director of 28 Too Many.
23.8 million women in Ethiopia have had female genital mutilation (FGM) which makes it the second most affected country in Africa for FGM. However despite the fact that FGM is widespread and is practised in the majority of regions and ethnics groups, research by 28 Too Many finds that attitudes are changing in Ethiopia and progress is being made to reduce and eventually eradicate this harmful practice.
This report shows FGM in 15-49 year olds has decreased by 16%, from 73% in 1997 to 57% in 2007 (EGLDAM). The national DHS survey also reported a reduction of 5.6% prevalence over 5 years: 79.9% (2000) to 74.3% (2005). There was a further DHS survey in 2011 but it did not cover FGM data.
A further indication of change is that the proportion of women with one or more daughters under the age of 15 with FGM in 2000 and 2005 were, respectively, 51.9% and 37.7% (DHS) and the proportion of girls under the age of 15 with FGM in 2011 is estimated to be 23% (WMS). Although caution must be exercised with drawing conclusions from different data sets, if confirmed by subsequent surveys this would be a significant decline.
“Whilst working in Ethiopia in 2011, I met Muna who had FGM when she was only 7 days old”, recalls Dr Wilson. “As a result of her FGM she later had problems during childbirth which caused severe physical trauma and the shame of this led to her exclusion and isolation. Following treatment for obstretric fistula at the Addis Ababa Hospital Muna was able to re-join society and she was also committed to protecting her daughter and helping others affected by FGM. The resilience and bravery of women like Muna is one of the reasons why attitudes to FGM are changing and highlights why we should ensure they are supported and comprehensive action is taken as soon as possible to eradicate FGM from Ethiopia and across Africa.”
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Notes to the editor:
Highlights from the Report
28 Too Many is a charity working to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Our primary focus is on research and enabling local initiatives to end FGM in the 28 African countries where it is practised and across the diaspora. We also network and advocate for the global eradication of FGM, working closely with other charities/NGOs in the violence against women sector.
Obstetric Fistula - Each year between 50 000 to 100 000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal. The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality: obstructed labour. Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems. It is estimated that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. (WHO)
DHS - Demographic Health Survey
EGLDAM - Ethiopian Association to Eliminate Harmful Traditional Practices
WMS - Welfare Monitoring Survey