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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Circumcision arrests in Senegal
African girls
The centuries-old tradition of female circumcision is proving hard to stop
By Alpha Jallow in Dakar

Authorities in Senegal have arrested eight women and five old men in southern Kolda district for circumcising more than 20 young girls.

According to village sources, the women were picked up on Tuesday after a village elder who opposes the practice tipped off local police.

The sources said the young girls, aged between two and five, had been hidden among a group of young boys due for circumcision.

A local government officer said those arrested will soon be arraigned before a district tribunal.

Banned

Female genital mutilation has become a controversial issue in Senegal following a government ban three years ago.

Mother and Daughter
NGOs have tried providing loans to traditional doctors to stop the practice

Despite the ban, the practice has become increasingly prevalent, especially among the Fulani, Mandingo and Fula tribes of southern Casamance province.

Locals have vowed not to stop circumcising their young girls, a practice which they say is deeply rooted in their society.

Efforts to discourage the practice in Senegal through a widespread media campaign have proved almost futile.

A number of local and international non-governmental groups have tried to encourage traditional doctors to discontinue circumcisions by providing small loans to compensate them for lost business.

But to no avail.

It appears that no matter what form of assistance is given, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stamp out the centuries-old practice.

See also:

23 Dec 98 | Medical notes
Female circumcision
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