Cross-posted at DailyKos. An NGO, the Niger Committee on Deadly Traditional Practices (aka Coniprat) has retrained about 40 circumcisors in Niger since it began in 1992:

“It’s not easy to give up a profession passed down to you by your parents that you’ve been at for years. But once you become aware of the grave harm you do others in this job, you have to quit,” says Salmou Himadou.

“The NGO gave me a 50,000 CFA franc (about 100 dollars) loan to fund a new business. Thank God, I’m making a lot more money selling spices than I was as a circumcisor.”

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[S]ome have joined Himadou in the spice trade, others have used their 100-dollar loans to start selling doughnuts, develop market gardens or extract peanut oil on a small scale.

“This (genital mutilation) is a subject which has long been taboo in our country. But by now, it has lost its mystique. People talk about it openly and circumcisors are ready to give up the profession to take on new ones, especially due to the awareness…and training campaigns we’ve conducted on the dangers of the practice,” [Conipart president Maiga Amsou] Amadou told IPS.

Although circumcision was banned here in 2003 it remains widespread in the country, as elsewhere in Africa – where the United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that up to 130 million women have undergone the practice. According to Coniprat, the area of Tillaberi has one of the highest rates of circumcision in the country – about 30 percent. In the capital of Niamey and surrounding regions, the rate is 17 percent.


According to the 2003 law which outlawed circumcision, those who carry out the practice – or attempt to do so – are liable for imprisonment of up to three years and fines ranging from 40 to 400 dollars. In the event that a girl dies as a result of circumcision, the person who carried out the procedure will receive a prison term of 10 to 20 years – as will those who assisted them.

However, the effects of these penalties have yet to be felt.

“The law is not enforced because to enforce it, you have to first see it (mutilation) happening; people have to inform on the circumcisor and she has to be caught in the act,” says Amadou.

In July 2003, an African Union (AU) summit held in Mozambique adopted a protocol calling for genital mutilation to be banned across the continent.

However, the ‘Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa’ must be ratified by at least 15 of the AU’s 53 states before it can enter into force. As of early February this year, 10 countries were reported to have endorsed the measure.

Read the rest of the article, which describes the practice in detail: A Hundred Dollars Goes a Long Way to Ending Genital Mutilation, by Ousseini Issa for IPS (Inter Press Service News Agency).


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usRecommended:

The documentary Moolaadé (2004)

“Six girls escape from an African ceremony of female circumcision. Two flee to the city while Colle Ardo Gallo Sy, one of the wives of a village tribesman, takes four in.

Colle puts the spell of Moolaade, protection, over the girls, to keep them safe.”


Roger Ebert writes:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSometimes I seek the right words, and I despair. What can I write that will inspire you to see “Moolaade?” This was for me the best film at Cannes 2004, a story vibrating with urgency and life. It makes a powerful statement and at the same time contains humor, charm and astonishing visual beauty.

But even my words of praise may be the wrong ones, sending the message that this is an important film, and therefore hard work. Moviegoers who will cheerfully line up for trash are cautious, even wary, about attending a film they fear might be great. And if I told you the subject of the film is female circumcision — would I lose you? And if I placed the story in an African village, have you already decided to see “National Treasure” instead?

All I can tell you is, “Moolaade” is a film that will stay in my memory and inform my ideas long after other films have vaporized. It takes place in a village in Senegal, where ancient customs exist side by side with battery-powered radios, cars and trucks, and a young man returning from Paris. Traditional family compounds surround a mosque; they are made in ancient patterns from sun-baked mud and have the architectural beauty of everything that is made on the spot by the people who will use it, using the materials at hand. The colors of this world are the colors of sand, earth, sky and trees, setting off the joyous colors of the costumes. …

PHOTO: Coulibaly Fatoumata, star of “Moolaadé,” at Cannes 2004. (Photo by Roger Ebert)

Coniprat site: Niger: Présentation des organisations et liens (in French)

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