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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Senegal villages reject FGM
Woman who performs female circumcision (generic)
The practice can prove fatal during childbirth

More than 250 villages from three rural communities in Senegal have pledged to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation and all other forms of discrimination against women.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) welcomed the decision, but said it would continue to fight for an end to the practice in the entire country.

A BBC correspondent in Senegal says that although the government is opposed to the practice the tribal custom is deeply rooted in African and Islamic societies.

Female circumcision, in which parts of the female genital organs are removed, is viewed by some as a religious requirement in order to keep girls chaste.

However, Islamic leaders say that female circumcision has no justification in religion.


Female genital mutilation is normally performed by traditional practitioners with crude scissors, knives, or even razor blades - often without anaesthetics.

Campaigners said circumcision can cause long-term complications such as damage to the urethra resulting in urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, urinary tract infection, infertility and can prove fatal for some women during childbirth.

Other complications can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue.

Usually, circumcision is performed on girls between the ages of four and 12, although in some societies it can be done on just a few days old babies, teenagers and occasionally on mature women.

In spite of stringent measures taken by the Senegalese government in recent years against FGM, the practice remains widespread among the Fulani people on the north, the Mandingo and the Jolla of the south and Jalunges and the Jahangas of eastern Senegal.

Unicef estimates that more than 130 million individuals worldwide have had FGM.

Reversing female circumcision
08 Feb 03  |  Health
Kenyan girls flee mutilation
07 Feb 03  |  Africa

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