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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 10:35 GMT
Couple's stand against female circumcision
Ethiopian young women
Circumcision is a taboo topic amongst Ethiopian women
When Genet Girma and her fiance Addisie Abosie got married in their home of Kembatta, Ethiopia recently they did the unthinkable in their community.

Genet wore a placard saying: "I am not circumcised, learn from me." Her groom wore a matching one that said: "I am happy to be marrying an uncircumcised woman."

Neither of their families attended the wedding because they objected to Genet's uncircumcised status, but some 2,000 friends did and the couple's happy day made Ethiopian television news.

Picture courtesy of the Kembatta Women's Self-Help Center
Genet Girma and Addisie Abosie broke with tradition on their wedding day
Bogaletch Gebre, founder and director of the Kembatta Women's Self-Help Center, which supported the couple in their stand, explained to the BBC World Service's Everywoman programme, why their action was so brave.

"In the area that they come from young girls do not even say the words "female circumcision", it is simply known as 'removing the dirt'."

"For a girl to come out and say that she is not circumcised and that she is happy, well I could not believe my ears."

Rite of passage?

Female genital mutilation is practised in approximately 28 countries in Africa.

Female circumcision
Razor blades, scissors, kitchen knives and even pieces of glass are used to circumcise women
Whilst considered by some cultures as an essential rite of passage to womanhood, opposition to the practice has largely come from outside these communities, with the United Nations pledging to eradicate it within three generations.

Methods and reasons for circumcision may vary from group to group, but the World Health Organization estimates that globally, about 130 million women have been circumcised, with the highest incidence in parts of Africa.

The practice usually takes the form of a clitoridectomy, which involves removing all or part of the clitoris.

This is frequently performed by untrained people using blunt, unhygienic instruments, without anaesthetics, often resulting in heavy bleeding, infections and sometimes death.

Ripple effect

Since their wedding, Genet and Addisie have toured the United States to campaign against the practise of female circumcision in their communities.

The couple's public stand has currently led to at least 10 other couples following suit.

"Before there are women who have grown up in a missionary compound who have married and given birth, but none of them had spoken out," Bogaletch explained.

"Now after Genet and Abosie, young men and women are really listening. There has been an amazing ripple effect... It has opened doors of courage."

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  ON THIS STORY
  Bogaletch Gebre talks to Everywoman
"In the area the couple come from, young girls do not even say the words 'female circumcision'"
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