Although the work done by the Togolese authorities at various levels is undoubtedly useful, female genital mutilation remains a real social problem. Determined to safeguard the gains of tradition, the Togolese people are strongly shaken by this evil that is rampant in almost all ethnic groups.
While international, regional and sub-regional organizations such as the United Nations have solemnly declared the elimination of female genital mutilation in the world, the fight against this scourge seems to be a utopia, with the corollary of increasing the number of victims in Togo.
In the Democratic Republic of Togo, this gender discrimination is far from being eliminated. In this nation, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the most practiced exercises by many people from the Tchaoudjo region in northern Togo. Female genital mutilation, also known in historical and community French as "excision," is a form of human rights violence and a serious attack on the physical integrity of the victims. Although a law prohibiting female genital mutilation has existed in Togo since 1998, in most of the northern regions of Togo and in certain ethnic groups such as the Yanga, Mossi, Cotocoli, Peul and Tchamba, prevalence rates have fluctuated.
There are several reasons for the practice of this activity and the drastic rise in the prevalence rate in northern Togo. In Tchamba, not far from the Togolese border, the lack of financial resources is a fundamental reason.
Comforted in their daily livelihood with great disregard for the consequences, these women, under the impact of the non-stop bleeding of their victims, do not go out of their way to blame Mother Nature. They consider without hesitation that the death of their patient during the exercise is the blow of fate. Thus, independently of the excision.
Despite the numerous efforts made by the Togolese government in the fight for the definitive elimination of female genital mutilation in the Republic of Togo through awareness campaigns carried out in the administrative regions by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the evil is still present. This fight is faced with challenges. The prevention and elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) still faces some major challenges. Among these challenges is the lack of availability to the Togolese people of national techniques or strategies on FGM. As a result, many women continue to engage in this practice. This is to the great displeasure of the law N°93-016 of November 17, 1998, law on the prohibition of female genital mutilation in Togo. Article 1 of this law states that "all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) practiced by any person, regardless of their status" are prohibited in Togo. According to the legislative provisions in force in the Republic of Togo, female circumcision and all other forms of female genital mutilation are prohibited throughout the national territory. In case of recidivism, the culprits are punished with up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of one million francs (500 euros). However, this lack of financial means and the absence of effective retraining policies are now the cause of the malaise of female practitioners. As a result, excision remains in their memory as the only way to meet their basic needs.
Reconversion of female practitioners, a difficult equation to solve
Stopping female genital mutilation in the Democratic Republic of Togo remains a difficult equation to solve. After several years of awareness-raising (14 years in this case) through international days such as the one entitled "Tolerance in Togo" in the context of the elimination of FGM, the question of financial difficulties is one of the main questions that plagues the minds of many practitioners. For them, FGC is a difficult generational legacy to leave. It allows the practitioner to not only accompany her husband in the home but also to safeguard the achievements of the tradition. To give up excision requires the establishment of a system of microcredit, without which, conversion would be nothing more than a utopia. What should be done then?
Although Togolese authorities at various levels are aware of the danger of genital mutilation in the Republic of Togo, they still lack multisectoral approaches to plug the gaps. The absence of an effective strategy and a commitment in due form are at the root of the flock of cases recorded year after year. It is therefore urgent that measures be taken. Faced with the thousands of women and girls exposed to the risk of female genital mutilation each year, Togolese authorities are called upon to :
- Continue awareness-raising sessions in schools so that girls can know their rights and be able to refuse or denounce an excision.
- Between human rights and health rights, it will be necessary to adopt a series of resolutions on the elimination of dangerous practices and violence that seriously threaten the health of women and girls; resolutions aimed at promoting the rights of women. And for this, it is necessary to intensify actions deployed in the zones at risk in order to eliminate the genital mutilation of young girls and women.
- Explicitly grant citizens the right to denounce all dangerous practices that affect the reproductive health of young girls, in this case genital mutilation.
- Take all necessary measures, including the application of the texts and laws in force to raise awareness at the grassroots level.
- Provide adequate financial allocations to relevant structures to protect women and girls from this form of violence.
- To create a climate of trust in order to appease vulnerable people who do not hesitate to denounce all forms of violence that affect the health of the girl.
- Establish a reward system for anyone who can report this practice.
- Encourage professional retraining. Without this, all efforts will be in vain.