Eritrea’s government has taken a major step in the protection of women’s health by banning the painful and sometimes life-threatening practice of female circumcision. Anybody involved in female genital mutilation will now be punished with a fine and imprisonment.
The procedure can involve the partial sewing up of a young girl’s vagina and the removal of the clitoris. It is seen by supporters as an initiation rite into adulthood and a barrier to promiscuity.
EU Representative Anne Zaborska fears the law may be difficult to enforce: “We must talk and educate the children and explain that this is a problem concerning the rights of men and the dignity of women.”
It is estimated that over 90% of Eritrean women have been circumcised. The National Union of Women, which has led the campaign to change the custom, has warned that community based work must continue.