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East African Nations Collaborate to Address Cross-Border FGM

east african nations collaborate to address cross border fgm
east african nations collaborate to address cross border fgm
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The fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in East Africa has been ongoing for several years, with significant efforts and collaboration among countries in the region. Political commitment has played a crucial role in this five-year continent-wide campaign endorsed by the African Union.

In 2019, gender ministers from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia came together to adopt the Mombasa Declaration, focusing on ending cross-border FGM, a practice that involves individuals moving between countries for the procedure. These five nations collectively represent a substantial portion of the global population of women and girls who have undergone FGM.

Female genital mutilation, defined as procedures involving the removal or injury of female genital organs for cultural and non-medical reasons, remains a deeply rooted issue in these countries, and the effort to eliminate it is ongoing.

Safe spaces for rescued girls have been established in Tanzania, which has successfully rescued trafficked girls from Kenya, thanks to collaborative meetings and awareness campaigns. However, the prosecution of FGM cases remains challenging, with a low conviction rate, often due to family influence.

In Uganda, efforts have been made to reduce FGM, and political support from the highest level has been instrumental. Partnerships with civil society organizations, faith-based groups, and cultural institutions have strengthened the fight against FGM. However, changing mindsets remains a significant challenge.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, new challenges emerged, such as an increase in child marriages and FGM due to the closure of schools and economic hardships. Male circumcision ceremonies also contributed to the persistence of FGM in some communities.

Cross-border collaboration has shown promise, especially in monitoring and sharing information through WhatsApp groups. Data sharing and standardization of terminologies related to FGM are crucial for a coordinated effort. Harmonizing laws and penalties, as well as strengthening regional collaboration through various means, is essential for success.

Cross-border hotlines and reporting mechanisms, along with support from international organizations and donors, are significant factors in the regional fight against FGM. Economic and social development programs that empower women, girls, and men can also contribute to eradicating this harmful practice, driven in part by poverty and lack of education.