By Mbi Lawrence
Female Genital mutilation (FGM) which involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other parts to the female genital organs for cultural reasons seems to continuously escape the long arm of the law in some of Cameroon.
Despite confirmation by health professionals that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) subjects a woman to both physical and psychological tortures and is widely denounced by Human rights campaigners, the people of Manyu Division of the South West Region of Cameroon still practice this act insisting it is a part and parcel of their culture and tradition.
The primitive act has left the villages to Mamfe Town, the seat of Manyu Division where, according to reports, four girls including Ashu Victorine and Ako Pauline were genitally mutilated last May 21 on the instruction of a certain traditional chief, Ekwati Ebai of Ayukaba village. The four FGM victims all hail from Ayukaba
The matter was reported to the police who apprehended the perpetrators but later released them because of the intervention of Chief Ekwati Ebai and his colleague who hold sway in the ruling CPDM party.
Our investigations found out that the said chief is bent not only on upholding the tradition but also on punishing all those who try to disrespect it.
The Ashu’s family has particularly been victimized since one of them, Glory Ashu refused to marry the chief, we gathered. Since then, some members of their family have been circumcised with many running away for their lives. Miss Ako Ashu, sister to one victim whom we met in the health center where she was treated said “she is tired of living in fear and hiding and plans to surrender to the pressure and give in to the practice of female genital mutilation”.
With statements like this many more are going to fall prey to the practice of Genital Mutilation if the perpetrators are not penalized. Many rights activists and feminists have been calling on the international community to bring pressure to bear on the Cameroon government to ensure the protection of the human rights of women and girls by enforcing the law in place. The fact that FGM is a cultural tradition should not deter the international community from asserting that it violates universally recognized rights.