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For centuries, African women and girls have been

victims of violence of all kinds within their families

and communities.   Despite the existence of

international conventions and national laws to

protect women and girls, the harmful practices of

female genital mutilation, rape, incest, forced

and/or early marriage, degrading widow rights,

refusal of schooling for girls or training for women

are still a reality.  By disavowing these rights it

prohibits their ability to have fulfilling lives.  

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful

traditional practice involving the cutting or

removal of the external female genitalia.  It has

existed for more than 2,000 years and is performed

on girls from birth, up to just before marriage, and sometimes beyond.  FGM is also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting." 

FGM is a harmful and dangerous practice that involves the outer parts of the vagina -including the labia and the clitoris- being partially or totally removed. The World Health Organization ("WHO") identifies four main types of FGM; however, in the case of type 3, which can be the most detrimental to a victim’s reproductive health, the vagina is sewn up, leaving only a small hole for urinating, menstruation and sexual intercourse.  FGM is predominantly carried out in parts of Africa.  

FGM is often carried out without aesthetic on girls between the ages of 3 and 14.  The implements used can be razor blades, razors, scissors or knives.  Besides the extreme pain, the psychological and physical effects are devastating and can often be life threatening.  FGM has been recognized as a practice that is born from societies with both gender imbalances and other forms of violence against women.

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. Furthermore, there are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.  The majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old.  FGM has been documented in at least 30 countries, mainly in Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Asia.  It is also prevalent in diaspora communities around the world.

There are no health benefits to FGM and it causes much harm.  Some of the health problems caused include (i) severe loss of blood, pain or shock, (ii) difficulties in urinating or menstruating, (iii) increased risk of bladder infection and HIV, (iv) psychological problems, (v) issues with sexuality and pain during sex, (vi) complications, and sometimes death, in pregnancy and childbirth, and (vii) incontinence due to tears in bladder or rectum (fistula).

Why and where does it happen?
FGM is an ancient traditional practice which has been taking place for over 2,000 years and whilst it is not known exactly where and why it first happened it is thought to originate from Sudan/Egypt. It is often mistakenly thought that FGM is performed for religious reasons but it pre-dates the major faiths and is not required by any religion. The reasons why FGM continues today are complex and reflect both the history and current circumstances of the communities in which it takes place.  Reasons given for practicing FGM include:

  ·  family expectations and to maintain family honor

  ·  tradition and/or religious values

  ·  preservation of virginity and chastity

  ·  community/social acceptance

  ·  cleanliness/hygiene

  ·  preparation of girls for womanhood and to enable them to have a good marriage.

Prevalence of FGM in Togo  

The regions in Togo with the highest FGM prevalence are Centrale (17.4% of women aged 15-49), Savanes (10.1%) and Kara (8.2%). The prevalence in Lomé, Maritime and Plateaux is under 2%.  

Women aged 15-49 who live in rural areas are slightly more likely (5.7%) to undergo FGM than those who live in urban areas (3.4%).

Muslim women aged 15-49 are far more likely to undergo FGM (22%) than women of other religions, among all of whom the prevalence of FGM is under 2%.

The ethnic group with the highest prevalence of FGM is the Autre Togolais, at 57.5%.  There is a large disparity between this group and the other ethnic groups in Togo, which are all under 8%, although the data is very limited for some groups.

Almost all FMGs are carried out by traditional practitioners.

FGM Legislation in Togo

The Government of Togo passed legislation in 1998 that specifically prohibits the practice of FGM (Law No. 98-016 of 17 November 1998 prohibiting female genital mutilation in Togo).  Several subsequent proclamations have reinforced the prohibition (January and July 2007, and November 2015).

94.7% of women and 95.6% of men aged 15-49
believe that FGM should be stopped.
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