Ethiopia

Country: Ethiopia

Population: 102.3 million[1] [2]

Major Languages:[3] Oromo, Amhara, Somali, English, Arabic

Major religions:[4] Ethiopian Orthodox 43.5%, Muslim 33.9%, Protestant 18.5%

Estimated FGC prevalence among women aged 15-49:

65%[5]

 

Type(s) practised:[6]

The most widely practised form is Type I and II. However, other types are also practised throughout Ethiopia, albeit not amongst all ethnic groups. Type III is common in areas bordering Sudan and Somalia.

Legal status:

FGC has been illegal in Ethiopia since 2004, although only a few prosecutions have taken place.[7] In addition, the Constitution provides for the fundamental rights and liberties of the people, explicitly of women, in Article 4.

 


[1] Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)

[2]‘Ethiopia’ (The World Factbook, CIA) <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html> accessed 17 February 2017

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] Population Reference Bureau, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends Update 2017

[6] Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Office of the Under Secretary for Global Affairs, Chart: Overview of Practice of Female Genital Mutilation (Washington, USA: U.S. Department of State 2001)

[7] 28 Too Many, FGM In Ethiopia: October 2013 (28 Too Many 2013)

 

History of anti-FGC movement in Ethiopia:[1]

There have been a large number of powerful campaigns and activities to prevent harmful traditional practices in Ethiopia in the last two decades, including FGC. Initially, the interventions were carried out by a small number of organisations, mainly the Ministry of Health through the Family Health Department. A National Committee on Traditional Practices of Ethiopia (NCTPE) was established in 1987 to help overcome traditional practices harmful to women’s and children’s health, while promoting those with a positive effect on society. Since then it has provided information on the dangers posed by harmful practices, and has made religious and traditional leaders aware of the need to abandon FGC. In the 1990s, interest grew and over 80 different organisations participated in activities against harmful traditional practices, with the main focus on FGC.

 


[1] 28 Too Many, FGM In Ethiopia: October 2013 (28 Too Many 2013)

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

The Ethiopian government has ensured that harmful traditional practices have been included in all the major policy and legal plans across the country, including policies on women, health, education and social policy. Other measures include the establishment of a Women’s Affairs Office in 2005, an inter-ministerial body set up to combat violence against women, including the identification of FGC as one of its major goals in its five year plan.[1] In 2011 the ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan set progressive ambitious five year targets to almost eliminate FGC to 0.7% by 2014/15.[2] There has also been good collaboration between regional government and NGOs. In July 2014, during the Girl Summit that took place in London, the Government of Ethiopia took a big step by making a ground breaking commitment to end child, early and forced marriage, and FGC in the country by 2025.[3]Our approach puts girls at the heart of our commitment, working closely with them, their families and communities, to end these practices for good and break the cycle of harmful traditional practices,” said Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen.[4] Following that statement, in 2015, the Government of Ethiopia reiterated its commitment to put an end to child marriage and FGC at the National Girl Summit held for the first time in its capital.[5]

Local organisations, NGOs and INGOs, such as Care Ethiopia, Save the Children Norway-Ethiopia, GTZ and UNICEF with the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme, are working to stop FGC in Ethiopia.[6]

In Northern Ethiopia, the U.S. Government has supported an FGC awareness-raising programme for women and girls living in Shimelba and My’Ayni refugee camps. Specific efforts include coffee discussions with girls, women, boys and men on GBV-related topics and services and a Girls’ Wellness Week, which promote adolescent girls’ health through a coming-of-age ceremony without FGC.

Ongoing challenges:[7]

Ethiopia has a patriarchal society and there are moral and cultural restrictions on women and their behaviour. Sexuality is a taboo subject and women who discuss it openly could be labelled as ‘immoral’ or ‘loose’. Though illegal, domestic violence and the discrimination of women are endemic in the country. Moreover, FGC does not have the same profile as other gender issues; it is often addressed by programmes with a wider focus to tackle violence against women or harmful traditional practices. It lacks the focused attention that domestic violence and early marriage have garnered. In 2010, only 1.7% of inhabitants of the Afar region had heard a public pledge against FGC.

The anti-FGC movement faces a lot of challenges, in terms of funding, resources and capacity, law enforcement, deeply entrenched cultural and religious beliefs, and ethnic conflict among others. The recent Civil Societies legislation, for instance, limits the remit of NGOs receiving more than 10% of their funding from outside of Ethiopia. It legislates against these organisations engaging in activities that advance human rights, including women’s rights, creating a barrier for the promotion of gender equality in the country. In the context of tradition, those who do have their daughters undergo FGC in Ethiopia, like many other places, believe it is a guarantee of a girl’s virginity which is a prerequisite for an honourable marriage in the region.

 


[1] 28 Too Many, FGM In Ethiopia: October 2013 (28 Too Many 2013)

[2] ibid

[3] Wossen Mulatu, ‘Ethiopia boosts its efforts to end child marriage and FGM/C by 2025 at the National Girl Summit’ (Unicef Ethiopia, 25 June 2015) <https://unicefethiopia.org/tag/girl-summit/> accessed 17 February 2016

[4] ‘The World’s First ‘Girl Summit’ Tackles Child Marriage & FGM’ (GirltalkHQ, 23 July 2014) < http://girltalkhq.com/the-worlds-first-girl-summit-tackles-child-marriage-fgm/> accessed 17 February 2014

[5] Mulatu (n 3)

[6] 28 Too Many (n 1)

[7] 28 Too Many (n 1)

Practising ethnic groups:[1]

The practice of FGC is nonexistent among certain ethnic groups and universal in others, such as the Amhara, Tigrayan, Gurage, Oromo, Shalink, Afar, Somali and Harari.

What are the prevailing attitudes towards FGC?[2]

Between 2000 and 2005, support for FGC has halved. In 2000 there was a recorded 60% support rate for FGM but by 2005 this had dropped dramatically to 31%, according to the DHS data.[3]

 


[1] Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Office of the Under Secretary for Global Affairs, Chart: Overview of Practice of Female Genital Mutilation (Washington, USA: U.S. Department of State 2001)

[2] There is no recent date on prevailing attitudes towards FGC in Ethiopia. This data has been taken from the 2005 DHS.

[3] 28 Too Many, FGM In Ethiopia: October 2013 (28 Too Many 2013)

Reference List:

Ethiopia’ (The World Factbook, CIA) <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html> accessed 17 February 2017

Mulatu W, ‘Ethiopia boosts its efforts to end child marriage and FGM/C by 2025 at the National Girl Summit’ (Unicef Ethiopia, 25 June 2015) <https://unicefethiopia.org/tag/girl-summit/> accessed 17 February 2016

Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Office of the Under Secretary for Global Affairs, Chart: Overview of Practice of Female Genital Mutilation (Washington, USA: U.S. Department of State 2001)

Population Reference Bureau, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends Update 2017 (Washington, USA: Population Reference Bureau 2017)

‘The World’s First ‘Girl Summit’ Tackles Child Marriage & FGM’ (GirltalkHQ, 23 July 2014) < http://girltalkhq.com/the-worlds-first-girl-summit-tackles-child-marriage-fgm/> accessed 17 February 2014

28 Too Many, FGM In Ethiopia: October 2013 (28 Too Many 2013)

 

 

 

In the news:

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting - Almost all girls were cut in her Ethiopian village: Not anymore, thanks to her.

Walta Info - New committee set up to combat FGC and early marriage in the Somali region in Ethiopia

Vatican Radio - Ethiopian Catholic Church working to raise awareness about FGC

Relief Web - Fighting child marriage and FGC in Afambo, Ethiopia

UiO - Changing attitudes towards FGC among Somali and Harari people in Eastern Ethiopia

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting - A community based approach to end FGC in Ethiopia

UN News - Success of sustainable development dependent on women and girls having access to education and reproductive health services

Huffington Post - Men speak out about ending FGC in Ethiopia

All Africa - Harmful traditional practices declining

African Union - African Union joins the global community in observing International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGC

All Africa - Counter-cultural movement headed for 2025

Tadias – Obama’s call to end FGC yet to reach Ethiopia's girls

Huffington Post- 'I will keep very strong': An Ethiopian girl fights to delay marriage

Mizo News- Ehtiopia vows to eliminate child marriage and FGC

AllAfrica- US vows to support fistula elimination effort in Ethiopia

NBE - An Ethiopian teenager’s courage in defying child marriage

Sudan Vision - Addis Ababa Fistula Treatment Hospital to benefit from International Women's Day celebration fundraising

FIGO - UN Women mobilise religious leaders in Ethiopia against FGC

Inter Press Service - One woman demands answers and an end to FGC

BBC News - Ethopia's Bogaletch Gebre wins King Baudouin Prize

Ethiotube - Fighting female genital cutting in Ethiopia

 

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