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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 09:05 GMT
Cameroon princess fights mutilation
'Nkim' dancers
Only circumcised women can dance the 'Nkim' dance

A princess has joined the fight against female genital mutilation, or female circumcision, among the Ejagam ethnic group from the South West Province of Cameroon.


The boys from my area are not interested in me because they think that the sexual urge is not there since I was circumcised

Princess Euphrasia Etta Ojong
Princess Euphrasia Etta Ojong said she still suffers from the trauma of her circumcision 17 years ago.

"After the circumcision, we were kept in a room and taught the 'Nkim' dance," she said.

Only circumcised women are allowed to perform the Nkim dance.

Dancers are considered to be an elite part of village society.

"Today, I feel ashamed when I am with other women. I do not feel like a complete woman," said Princess Ojong.

"Even the boys from my area are not interested in me because they think that the sexual urge is not there since I was circumcised".

'Fattened'

She was speaking during an intensive education campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation in the area launched by a local organisation, Abemo.

According to Abemo President Mafani Evelyne, the practice has persisted over the years because it is a initiation into womanhood for the girls of the community.

Mama Anna, female circumcisor
Circumcisor Mama Anna says FGM is part of the area's culture

"The girls are circumcised during a special ceremony and locked in a house where they are fattened and taught to dance.

"However the disadvantages are many, some girls have died from bleeding after the excision," she said.

However, the group still has to convince some of the women of the community on the negative effects of female genital mutilation (FGM).

According to primary school teacher Etta Beatrice, who has been circumcised, the practice should not be eradicated because it protects the integrity of the women.

The area's chief circumcisor, Mama Anna, says FGM is valuable cultural heritage and people should be proud that their daughters were circumcised.

Apart from educating the Ejagam people, Abemo is also working with the Social Democratic Front, the second largest opposition political party in Cameroon to present a bill in parliament to ban FGM.

Muslims in Cameroon's North Province also practice female circumcision.

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12 Dec 01 | Africa
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