Researchers find that some health facilities in Ghana are doing FGM
A baseline survey carried out in some districts of the three regions of the North has revealed an increasing trend of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), with alarming rates in girls aged zero to one month at health facilities.
The research which was commissioned by the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) was carried out in districts in Sawla -Tuna- Kalba of the Savanna region, Pusiga and Paga in Kassena Nankana West, and Wa West districts in the Upper East Region (UER).
Presenting the research results at a validation workshop in Bolgatanga in the UER, the consultants, Dr Matilda Aberese Ako of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and Mr Baba Atubiga, a lecturer at the Tamale Technical University, indicated that the medicalised practice was instructive as families gave permission for the cutting of their babies’ clitoris in health centres.
Dr Aberese Ako said four out of 100 women in the Pusiga district had undergone circumcision, and in every 100 women in the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba district, six women had undergone female genital mutilation.
In the Kassena Nankana West district one out of every 10 women was circumcised, using the Ghana Standard Survey (GSS) reports on female population in each of the districts, she said.
Mr Baba Atubiga, said cross border practice of FGM in communities was critical and it was one of the social networks that girls used when they visited family members in adjoining border communities to practice FGM.
Among other tasks of the research, the consultant said, was to determine the current state of FGM, knowledge, attitude and practices of residents in the communities, social norms and networks that influence and sustain FGM in the practicing districts and gain in-depth understanding of social norms and dynamics of motivation for the practice and recommend interventions.
Mr Atubiga said parents especially mothers, played key roles in the practice of FGM and that out of 192 girls above 18 years interviewed, 75 of them said it was their mothers’ influence, while 59 per cent of respondents indicated they were influenced by circumcisers with the motivation that it attracted respect for prospective husband.
The study revealed that 10 girls said they did the practice to prevent mockery, while 25 said the FGM made them healthy and prevents the girls from engaging in prostitution.
On the current situation of FGM among girls, all 124 girls between 11 and 15 years said they had knowledge of the practice, with 75 of them mentioning their mothers, 19 from school and 28 others from friends.
Speaking in an interview with the media, Ms Selina Owusu, the National Gender Analyst of UNFPA, said the baseline survey was commissioned to know the current trend, prevalence and social norms that influenced FGM.
“Though in Ghana there are laws that criminalise FGM, for a long-time statistic we are working with are outdated and there are current cross border issues that girls have taken over the borders and going to get circumcision done so we want these documented, have some evidence,” she said.
Ms Owusu said the involvement of stakeholders including the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Ghana Health Service, the Immigration Service, traditional authorities and civil society in the validation of the baseline findings was significant, and when finalised and launched, it would serve as a national document for action planning.
She said though FGM was declining, the medical type was surprising and should equally be condemned as the UNFPA aimed to eradicate all harmful traditional practices.