A baseline survey report on the prevalence and drivers of the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in some districts in Northern Ghana has been launched in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
The survey was commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and conducted by Dr Matilda Aberese-Ako, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Health Research in the University of Health and Allied Science and Mr Atubiga Alobit Baba, a Lecturer at the Tamale Technical University.
The research was conducted in four districts in three regions, namely; Sawla-Tuna-Kalba district in the Savannah Region, Wa East District in the Upper West Region, and Kassena-Nankana West and Pusiga Districts in the Upper East Region.
The goal of the research was to assess the current state of knowledge, attitudes and practices and the motivations that sustain the FGM practice in northern Ghana to inform strategies for interventions.
Presenting the report to stakeholders in Bolgatanga, Mr Baba indicated that the findings revealed that the FGM practice was still prevalent in Northern Ghana, particularly the areas in which the research was conducted with varied reasons as factors influencing the sustainability of the practice.
The Report revealed that at Pusiga district, about nine out 1,000 females had undergone FGM, at the Sawla-Kalba-Tuna, about 20 out of 1,000 females had undergone FGM practice, at the Kassena-Nankana West Districts, about 30 out of 1,000 females had undergone FGM while at the Wa East about 10 out 1,000 females had undergone the practice.
The Report revealed that although 71 percent of the respondents indicated that the FGM practice was not good, 29 percent said the practice was good and mentioned family, social pressure, and traditional and religious beliefs as root causes of the practice.
The Report said apart from preventing girls from engaging in prostitution, it revealed that the reasons given for the sustainability of the practice were for girls to be socially accepted in the communities and be able to get husbands to marry.
It revealed that the FGM practice was higher in the Upper East Region than it was in the other regions and attributed the situation to cross-border activities.
It therefore recommended that apart from intensifying education for communities to understand the dangers of FGM to help change attitudes and social norms, there was the need for alternative livelihood interventions for circumcisers.
Dr Doris Mawuse Aglobitse, Programme Specialist and Gender Team Lead, UNFPA who read a speech on behalf of Dr Wilfred Ochan, the UNFPA Ghana Country Representative, said despite Ghana banning FGM practice since 1994, the Report revealed that the practice was still prevalent especially in Northern Ghana.
“UNFPA commissioned this research in this part of the country because both Multiple Indicator Clusters (MIC) 2018 survey results and 2021 population and housing census, indicated that the practice of FGM among women 15 to 49, is at 2.4 percent with high rates in the Upper West (32.5percent) and Upper East (13.2per cent),”
She said the Report would serve as a baseline for strategic interventions and programmes to be rolled out to help the canker and called on all stakeholders to support the fight to achieve zero FGM practice in the communities and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, commended UNFPA for leading the fight against FGM and indicated that the practice was dehumanising which brought health and psychosocial effects on survivors.
He therefore called for strengthened institutions, efforts and partnerships against the practice and called on the traditional authorities to eliminate or modify all cultural practices that were harmful and injurious to the people to preserve human dignity.