Progress being made in efforts to stop female genital cutting in Mali

Organizations working in Mali to stop female genital cutting -- a practice sometimes referred to as female circumcision or female genital mutilation in which there is a partial or full removal of the labia, clitoris or both -- are beginning to make progress, Afrol News/Daily Nation reports.

According to Afrol News/Daily Nation, 92% of girls and women ages 15 to 49 in Mali have undergone genital cutting.

The Malian government in 1999 banned medical workers from providing the procedure.

However, female genital cutting is still practiced throughout the country, although its frequency varies among regions and ethnicities, Afrol News/Daily Nation reports.

Aissata Diakite, who heads an association of women's nongovernmental organizations in Mali, said that since 1991 about 200 practitioners of the procedure have vowed to stop performing it.

She added that 15 villages in the country are working to ban the procedure. Mali's Minister for Women, Children and Family M'Bodji Sene last month at a meeting said that education and communication are "the beginning and the end of the process of change," adding that progress in stopping the procedure "is owed to the positive impact of traditional and modern communications."

Diakite said the highest resistance to ending the practice is in the south of the country, and it is scarcely performed in northern regions (Afrol News/Daily Nation, 2/13).

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