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France - Africa

Joint statement warning of female circumcision during summer holidays

Female circumcision is illegal in over twenty countries world wide
Female circumcision is illegal in over twenty countries world wide unicef.fr

 With summer vacation just around the corner and many French children visiting family in their countries of origin, a joint statement has been issued by a collection of female organisations warning young girls on the risks of female circumcision.

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It’s not a thought normally associated with the carefree weeks of the summer vacation, but many young girls growing up in France will go back to visit family during the summer months in countries where female circumcision is still practiced, such as in Egypt or Mali.

The umbrella group “Circumcision, let’s talk about it”, made up of about twenty different associations and organizations, estimates that thousands of girls are at risk especially during “the summer months that are often a time for perpetrating such acts of mutilation”.

Even if many of these girls oppose undergoing such an operation, they are often pressured by their parents or are under family pressure the moment they touch down in their respective country of origin.

During a round-table meeting held at the University of Paris 1, it was also discussed how circumcision is often the precursor to forced marriages. “In unstable countries, as is the case in Egypt, with the return of many expatriates living abroad, we are increasingly worried” said Christine Beynis, president of Gams (Group to abolish sexual mutilation).

Beynis said that out of the thirty countries in both the Middle East and Africa that practice female circumcision, the actual rate differs per country depending on the regions and ethnicities. “In Guinea, 98 percent of women are circumcised, regardless of religion” she added.

Beynis, raised catholic, was circumcised herself at the age 10. “I know to what extent this can destroy lives” she said.

Female circumcision is illegal in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe, the United States and Canada. It has also been condemned by the United Nations.

In France, parents who either commit or allow such operations can be imprisoned up to ten years (20 if the girl is a minor) and fined 150 000 Euros.

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