Community Abandonment of FGM

Activist Lasana Kone, member of Youth Hope Association of Guinea, reports on their anti-FGM campaigns in Beyla held between November and December 2023.

Female genital mutilation in Guinea is generally practiced in very early childhood. The girls who undergo the cut suffer from various ailments throughout their life including marriage at a young age, painful sexual intercourse, difficulty during childbirth and low levels of education. However, they do not often correlate these problems with their mutilations as most are convinced that all women experience these difficulties.

Female genital mutilation is thus a reflection of inequality deeply rooted between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. These practices also violate their rights to health, safety and physical integrity, the right to be safe from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as the right to life when these practices have fatal consequences.

However, mentalities are starting to change in Guinea thanks to the numerous awareness campaigns held across the media, which reduces the pressure to undergo the practice. Involving local government, the media, religious people, medical experts, female circumcisers and victims is all necessary to educate society on the harmful consequences of FGM.

In their November-December campaigns, Youth Hope Association of Guinea carried out three programmes in Beyla against FGM:

Activity 1: ‘Community Commitment’ to abandoning the practice of FGM, including the intervention of traditional leaders, religious scholars, students, teachers, traditional circumcisers, young girl leaders and parliamentarians. Interactive sessions were held by Youth Hope Association of Guinea to raise awareness of the problem of FGM and child marriage.

Community Abandonment session in Beyla

Activity 2: Conferences and debates were held to target three neighbourhoods with high prevalence of FGM in Beyla: Local authorities were invited to remind female practitioners of the sanctions and measures taken by the government to abandon the practice of excision.  The Penal Code prohibits, and provides for life imprisonment for, any mutilation of the genital organs of men (castration) or women (excision).

Conferences on FGM held in communities in Beyla with high rates of FGM.

Activity 3: Messages were broadcast every Thursday evening in the rural radio station of Beyla with the messages “Let’s act to end female genital mutilation” and “Mothers undertake to never perform female genital mutilation”.

“Changes to behaviour requires a lot of effort and is long-term work.”

Lasana Kone, Youth Hope Association of Guinea

The responses from listeners and spectators to these campaigns were positive. After a community round table, one mother promised “I will not pass down circumcision to my daughter.”

The scope of the event was to cover the entire Beyla prefecture, and some villages in the neighbouring prefectures of Lola and Kérouané in addition to some villages in the sister republic of Ivory Coast (Estimated at over 750 thousand people). The impact of the media project had a positive effect in these communities to abandon the practice of circumcision and child marriage.

While successful, awareness campaigns such as this only work to change behaviour when they are continuous, and it is crucial to give the women and girls who are victims of FGM the opportunity to talk about their experiences publicly.

In her closing statement to her report, Lasana Kone asks

“To end female genital mutilation in the prefecture of Beyla, we invite everyone to act together to speed up the abandonment of the practice in our communities and to change perceptions to end this harmful tradition.”

Report from 5/12/2023