Ethiopian activist Bogaletch Gebre has won an international prize for her campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation FGM. She was awarded the King Baudouin Prize in Belgium for confronting “culturally entrenched taboo subjects”, the selection committee said. Ms Bogaletch helped reduce cases of FGM from 100% of newborn girls to less than 3% in parts of Ethiopia, it said. FGM is practised mainly in communities in Africa and the Middle East.
Also known as female circumcision, it is seen as a traditional rite of passage and is used culturally to ensure virginity and to make a woman marriageable. It typically involves removing the clitoris, and can lead to bleeding, infections and childbirth problems.
Ms Bogaletch told BBC Focus on Africa that her message to community elders who promoted FGM was: “Daddy, you lived your time. This is our period, our children’s period. We don’t want to kill our children. I hope you are wise enough to accept that.”
The Belgium-based King Baudouin Foundation awarded Ms Gebre the 450,000 euros ($580,000; £385,000) prize for her “innovative” campaign to eradicate FGM.
The Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma (KMG) group, which she founded, focused on arranging “community conversations” in areas of Ethiopia where illiteracy levels were high and FGM “endemic”, the Foundation said in a statement.
“By implementing this approach across communities in Ethiopia, Boge and KMG lowered the incidence of FGM in 10 years from 100% to less than 3% of newborn girls in the areas where they work,” it added.
Ms Bogaletch told BBC Focus on Africa that supporters of FGM believed in the “subjugation” of women … //
… In December (2012), the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a non-binding resolution calling for all member states to ban the practice.
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Ethiopian Activist (Bogaletch Gebre) Recognized for Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation, on Voice of America/News Africa, by Selah Hennessy, May 24, 2013.