How to stop the maim­ing of girls

The Week (US) - - News 15 - Clé­ment Zongo

Sid­waya

It’s time to hold fathers re­spon­si­ble for the mu­ti­la­tion of their daugh­ters, said Clé­ment Zongo. Burk­ina Faso banned fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion in 1996—one of the first African coun­tries to do so. Still, three-quar­ters of our women have been cut, and the prac­tice con­tin­ues to this day. Act­ing on a tip, po­lice last month res­cued and hos­pi­tal­ized 50 girls and women who had just been sub­jected to il­le­gal cli­torec­tomies, the sur­gi­cal re­moval of the cli­toris. The mass cut­ting didn’t take place in some re­mote back­wa­ter, but in our cap­i­tal, Oua­gadougou. The vic­tims ranged in age from in­fancy to their early 20s, and po­lice ar­rested at

least 22 peo­ple at the scene, in­clud­ing the cut­ters and some of the fe­male rel­a­tives who had ac­com­pa­nied the girls. Pe­nal­iz­ing moth­ers and aunts, though, will not bring about change in Burk­in­abe cul­ture. “Why is the man en­ti­tled to pleasure and not the woman?” This misog­y­nis­tic tra­di­tion is rooted in the pa­tri­archy, and it is “the un­com­pro­mis­ing phal­lo­crat who dic­tates the rules.” If we were to amend our laws to sen­tence a father to prison when his daugh­ter was cut, “we would see this evil re­treat at a gal­lop.” Men who care about women should not rest un­til this wrong is erad­i­cated. “Vive le cli­toris!”

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