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The Knife That Kills (Female circumcision in Ethiopia)

In large parts of the World circumcision of women kills as well as causes many health problems and dangers including frigidity, deformed genitals, menstrual problems, cystitis and incontinence, pelvic inflammatory disease, heightened risk of infertility, and the risk of fistula.

In the Afar Regional State in North Eastern Ethiopia the most extensive and harmful form of circumcision is widely practiced. It is called infibulation and involves the complete removal of both clitoris and the labia minora as well as partial removal of the labia majora. What remains after the wound heals is a small hole the size of a pea, allowing for urine to pass. Sometimes the vagina is stitched together with acacia thorns to ensure the virginity of the girl.
In the Afar Region it is called “salot”.

While circumcision of girls remains a big problem in many places, various programs to stop the harmful practice have been quite successful. Through education and information, the percentage of girls who are circumcised has been reduced. According to the local authorities in Ethiopia dealing with women, children and youth, BOWCYA, the number has been reduced from 91 percent in 2005 to around 60 percent in 2011 in the Afar Region. A great task remains though to further reduce, and eventually eliminate, the practice of female circumcision both here and in other parts of the world.

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