On Sunday, October 16, the front cover of the New York Times featured a full length article entitled “Senegal Curbs a Bloody Rite for Girls and Women.” The article describes the history of female genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal and the ongoing movement to end the practice, as seen through the eyes of local families.
New York Times
journalist Celia Dugger, photographer Lynsey Addario, and videographer Nicholas Loomis traveled to Sare Harouna, a community in the Kolda region of Southern Senegal, in May to learn about the growing movement to end FGC in Senegal and specifically to report on the impact Tostan is contributing to this movement.   Dugger writes, “here in Senegal, Tostan…has had a major impact with an education program that seeks to build consensus, African-style, on the dangers of the practice, while being careful not to denounce it as barbaric as Western activists have been prone to do.” Tostan’s unique, culturally sensitive approach to discussing human rights, Dugger confirms, served as the catalyst that led over 5,000 Senegalese communities to declare their commitment to abandon the practice.
The article also weaves together the stories of three unique individuals whose work sparked the genesis of public declarations for FGC abandonment: Molly Melching, Tostan’s founder; Demba Diawara, a respected Senegalese village imam; and Gerry Mackie, an associate professor and political theorist based in California.
Connecting the challenging realities of life with FGC and the growing movement to abandon the practice, Dugger, Addario, and Loomis illustrate an environment bursting with individuals determined to lead positive change in their communities. With the story of these Senegalese communities reaching international audiences through the New York Times, many can learn of and become actors in this movement that empowers girls, women, and entire communities.
To read the full, front cover New York Times article, click here.
To add visual depth to this report on the FGC abandonment movement in Senegal, click the links to multimedia resources below.
Photo album depicting life in Sare Harouna by photographer Lynsey Addario
Short video on community response to FGC in Senegal and The Gambia by videographer Nicholas Loomis and reporter Celia Dugger