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FGM in Burkina Faso

Deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a human rights violation that affects more than 230 million women and girls around the world, including in Burkina Faso.

What is FGM? 

FGM is often rationalized as a rite of passage into womanhood.  In reality, it is an extreme form of violence used to control women and girls’ sexuality.

It has serious and far-reaching consequences on the health, psychological, and emotional well-being of women and girls. It denies women and girls the full enjoyment of their rights and liberties, takes away their right to bodily autonomy, causes lifelong health problems, increased maternal and infant mortality during childbirth, psychological trauma and even death.

How prevalent is FGM in Burkina Faso?

According to UNICEF, 76 percent of women in Burkina Faso aged 15-49 have undergone FGM. The majority of girls undergo FGM before the age of five, with prevalence ranging from 22 percent to 87 percent, depending on ethnicity. 

The main reasons for performing FGM include social acceptance, preserving virginity, better marriage prospects as well as religious reasons, even though FGM has not been cited in any religious texts.

Is FGM against the law in Burkina Faso?

Yes. In November 1996, the parliament passed a law outlawing FGM in Burkina Faso.

The law was amended in 2018 – 2019 to provide stiffer penalties. Article 380 of the Penal Code defines and criminalizes FGM while Articles 381 and 382 provide penalties for FGM including FGM carried out by a medical practitioner. 

The Ministry of Education has committed to integrating teaching the consequences of FGM into formal and informal education curriculum.

In 2016, the parliament further adopted the 2016 – 2020 ‘National Strategic Plan of the Permanent Secretariat of the National Council for the fight against the Practice of Excision’ (Le Comite National de Lutte Contre la Pratique de l’Excision) a blue print used in the implementation of anti-FGM efforts.

Why is FGM still affecting girls in Burkina Faso?

While Burkina Faso has strongly enforced their anti-FGM law, cross-border FGM remains a challenge. Citizens often cross the border to countries where anti-FGM laws do not exist or where such laws are weakly enforced.

Burkina Faso borders Niger, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin which have laws against FGM. It also borders Mali, which has a prevalence of over 90%, and does not have an anti-FGM law.

How can we end FGM in Burkina Faso? 

Equality Now is calling on:

  • The government to ensure that women and girls are fully protected from FGM;
  • The judiciary to uphold the current sentencing law on the perpetrators;
  • The government to increase budgetary allocation to support the enforcement of the anti-FGM law;
  • The government to ensure accountability across all law-enforcement structures in order to accelerate implementation of the anti-FGM law; and
  • The government to ensure capacity-building of institutions responsible for the implementation of the anti-FGM law.