In Mali, according to the latest UNICEF report, female genital cutting (FGC) affects 89 per cent of women aged 15 to 49. At the regional level, the prevalence varies between communities. The Malian newspaper Le Relais de Bougouni has recently published a report on the history of the practice in Mali and recent successes in promoting its abandonment, based on research by journalist Seydou Koné.

The article describes how efforts for the abandonment of FGC in Mali started more than 50 years ago and have accelerated since the 1990s with the democratization of the country. In 1996 the Malian government created the National Committee for the Abandonment of Harmful Practices (CNAPN), signifying the engagement of the government towards ending the practice. Later, in 2002 the National Program for the End of Female Circumcision was launched with a “mission to coordinate, initiate and evaluate actions” for ending FGC.

The article highlights the recent declaration of 30 communities which had participated in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program at Fégoun, in central Mali. Seydou Koné said in his report that this public declaration was a big step, “especially considering that in Mali during the 1970s and 1980s, talking about abandoning FGC was taboo.”

Concluding the article was a quote from Koné, summarizing his opinion on the way forward to reduce the practice in Mali. He said that “for people to abandon this practice, there must be an open debate about it, while remaining respectful of Malian culture.”

Read more about the process of FGC abandonment in Mali and public declarations in the full article (in French).

Article by Camille Sarret