Men and Women Joined Hands Against Harmful Traditional Practices in Ethiopia

Female genital mutilation is still prevalent in Ethiopia [1]. Such derogative custom brought severe physical and mental distress upon females, and the participation of men is imperative in the fight against the system.

According to the 2011 census of Ethiopia, nearly 1 in 4 girls have had their genitals mutilated, and the number reaches 47% in high-risk areas. The government passed a law to prohibit such practices based on gender equality in 2001, but the deep-rooted local definition of virginity never ceased to put women in the position to be scarred for life.

Lemlem Derse (right) is an active member of the Anti Female Genital Mutilation Group hosted by Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Committee (EKHC-DC), a partner of CEDAR, which is an advocator in terminating the custom. Lemlem was engaged to Eyuel Demisie (Left) who guaranteed to not put his fiancée through the mutilation process. “We came to know the true meaning of perfection and purity in females… our sister in law did not have a genital mutilation and there weren’t any complications when she gave birth to her son. They are both safe and sound now.”

Our partner not only advanced the cause in stopping female genital mutilation in the communities and changing the minds of its longtime supporters, but they were also successful in persuading some professional mutilators to quit their jobs or even join them in the advocacy, leading the parents and girls in the battle against genital mutilation.

CEDAR is currently supporting EKHC-DC in their advocacy in Hawassa, Ethiopia, who hosts 40 Anti Female Genital Mutilation Groups that equip the young generation to become advocators in their societies. They are active in schools and churches, and have reached 20,165 men and 21,162 women.

Verses for Reflection:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Advocacy is the response to the inequality and injustice in our world, uprooting the systematic evil and proclaiming God’s will to all mankind.

Thanksgiving and Prayer Items:

  • Praise God for mobilizing the churches in Ethiopia in the fight against female genital mutilation, and speaking up for the women and girls agonized by the derogative customs.
  • Thank God for allowing progress in the work, which brought awareness to local men and women about the scarring effects of the custom, while freeing young couples from its bindings.
  • Pray for less future mutilation victims and pray for the girls to regain their self-worth and dignity that was unique and good for them in God’s creation.

[1] Mutilating parts or all of the female clitoris and labia, and let the adhesions that occur after healing cover a large portion of the vagina opening, in order to bar the female from having sex before marriage as a form of guaranteeing purity.