Written by: Edward Lai (Senior Communications Officer)
What kind of person would you like to be?
When discussing dreams with youths, despite where they live, they somehow think of being a doctor, pilot, lawyer, teacher or entrepreneur. Dreams may fade in a blink, but it may also be planted in hearts, awaiting to sprout. CEDAR’s Ethiopian partner  entered local poor communities, determined on discussing dreams, meanings and values of life with youths.
We put on armors to fight to eliminate harmful traditional practices
Subvert the harmful influences and effects
We are united and determined to take actions
Because we are now well awaken to the scourge.
Ignorant people in the past
Have been badly harmed by them
Because they did not know any better.
Ignorant people in the past believed
Harmful traditional practices were good for them
When indeed their lives were at stake.
Female Genital Mutilation is a major harmful practice.
Sugar-coated as prestigious and noble,
FGM suffocated our mothers
We regret and repent for the harm incurred.
FGM steals away sexual pleasures, corrupts marriages
And adds complications to child birth.
(Lyrics edited by CEDAR Fund, originally written by a member
from the ant-FGM group in Ethiopia.)
Under the warmth of the bright and serene sun, a group of Ethiopian village and school girls stood before a hundred villagers, and sang the above song with shiny smiles and beaming faces. Some of them had a uniformed yellow T-shirt on, where the slogan “STOP Female Genital Mutilation” was displayed clearly in the local language. This day was the special day of village education day, and also the performance day of the advocacy club.
A mere thought of the procedure of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), where a woman’s labia and clitoris are completely or partially removed, causing her virginal opening to be largely covered by the healing scar tissues, casts no doubt on the brutality of such practice. It is further heart breaking to think that the procedure was done to “ensure” pre-marital puberty. Places such as Ethiopia traditionally practices FGM where countless females were damaged both physically and mentally, with the resulting increased birth complication risks and pain during sexual intercourse.
Female genital mutilation is still prevalent in Ethiopia . Such derogative custom brought severe physical and mental distress upon females, and the participation of men is imperative in the fight against the system.
Breaking cultural vices needs constant intervention and promotion to achieve results. CEDAR’s partner in Ethiopia, Kale Heywet Church Development Commission (EKHC-DC), fights against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Although FGM is banned, the traditional thinking and practice of genital mutilation as a means of ensuring chastity is deep-rooted. EKHC-DC therefore actively educates the public on the harmfulness of FGM through promotional events and workshops, and organises “combat groups” and ‘public awareness ambassadors’ to fight against FGM.
[ePrayer – Pray for the battle against FGM in Ethiopia]
In Ethiopia today, many women and girls are still suffering from the threat of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This traditional harmful practice not only makes sufferers lose their dignity but also brings irreversible physical damage and severe emotional pain in their entire lives.
According to the official research findings of Ethiopia in 2011, around 23% of the women population under or aged 14 have experienced FGM. The percentage of FGM victims in the high-risk areas even hit 47%. Despite the fact that the Federal Government of Ethiopia has put up laws against FGM based on gender equality, it’s sad that many families are still unwilling to abandon this harmful tradition, as the parents still hope that their girls will be blessed for good marriage and living through this act linking to moral benefits such as purity and virginity.
From the financial support received from an overseas organisation, Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC) has implemented FGM project in 10 areas since 2000. Through community education and advocacy work, people are educated about the problems brought by FGM and their wrong concept of purity is corrected. Besides, EKHC helped circumcisers to develop new skill sets so that they could change jobs for a new life. All these work resulted in a significant reduction of FGM incidence in the community during that period. However in 2012, EKHC found it difficult to continue their work due to financial constraints.
CEDAR is going to support our partner EKHC to conduct a survey interviewing 1,000 people in 5 targeted villages. The interviewees include the unmarried, married, religious leaders, local officials and circumcisers. By obtaining the latest findings and figures, our partner can arrange better work and services against FGM in the near future, hoping that the practice will be completely eliminated soon and the females there will no longer need to suffer physically and emotionally.
Pray for the battle against FGM in Ethiopia:
EKHC is currently working hard on the survey questionnaire. Our partner is conferring with local officials about the selection of interview districts and the recruit of 15 suitable interviewers for this survey. Pray that God will lead this project so that they can collect useful data for the upcoming plans.
Pray that God will protect those women and girls who are still threatened by FGM and have mercy on those who still suffer from the sequela of FGM. We stand by them hoping that this harmful practice will be eliminated soon.
 Female genital mutilation includes partial or total removal of a girl’s clitoris and labia; wound healing resulting in closure of the virginal opening prevents the girl from having any premarital sex and thereby preserving her chastity.
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