Madam Cynthia Mamle Morrison, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has condemned ongoing underground practices of Female Genital Mutilation, (FGM) in some communities in Ghana.
She said studies had shown that although Ghana’s FGM prevalence in the 1990s was as high as 77 per cent, it reduced drastically to a current national prevalence of about four per cent, due to the advocacy and sensitization that had gone on.
She said it was therefore regrettable that unknowingly, the practice was still ongoing under cover, despite the numerous campaigns and education over the past years.
She said this may result in a much higher record of regional prevalence, especially in some communities in parts of the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions, where there had been some reports of FGM cases.
The Gender Minister said the practice was not only considered as inhumane, but also violates the rights of women and girls to health, physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruelty.
It also violates their right to life especially where the practices result in death.
She therefore urged the law enforcement agencies not to hesitate in prosecuting anyone caught in the act because the law against FGM, Act 741 of the Parliament of Ghana, the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act of 2007, provided for imprisonment and or fine for both the circumciser and those who request, incite or promote excision by providing money, goods or moral support are equally liable
Madam Morrison expressed these sentiments in a press release issued by the Gender Ministry in Accra, to mark the commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, on February 6.
The day was instituted by United Nations to create awareness about the alarming rates and negative socio-economic and health impact of FGM and to eradicate the practice.
She described FGM as one of the ancient cultures which had been practiced in Africa and Asia for decades, and in Ghana, it was being perpetrated in some parts of the Northern, Upper East and West, Brong Ahafo and the Volta Regions, as well as in the Zongo communities in certain urban centres.
The practice, she said, involved the partial or total removal, or alteration of the female genital organ for non-medical reasons, and this result to deep rooted inequality between the sexes and constituted an extreme form of discrimination against females, she said.
She stated that studies showed that “an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world today have undergone some form of FGM and two million girls are at risk from the practice each year”.
The Gender Minister said it was clear that the adoption of this cultural practice had not served any good purpose in the country, stressing that a culture that violated the rights of the people was not worth practicing.
She said it was to this end that the Ministry joined the International community to condemn the practice of FGM globally and especially in Ghana, and called on the government, Parliamentarians, Traditional rulers, Religious leaders, civil society, the media, Faith-Based and Community-Based Organisations, as all as individuals, not to relent on all efforts to end the gruesome act which, had no health benefit to women and children.
“We have to understand that ending FGM in Ghana is the responsibility of all, and the fight to eradicate it must be addressed through a national crusade from the national to the community levels,” she said.
Madam Morrison further urged all societies to speak out and condemn the practice as well as intensify public community-based awareness campaign against FGM, by getting involved and acting in their own small ways towards ending the practice and its perpetuation in secrecy in communities in country.