The Embera-Chami put a stop to female genital mutilation
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Ending female circumcision in the world
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Ending female circumcision in the world


The Embera-Chami’s announcement is a landmark decision for another reason. The Colombian Constitution recognizes and protects the rights of indigenous minorities, including the validity of their own justice systems. This effectively empowers them to protect and preserve their social and cultural traditions.

As a result, indigenous communities in the country have been firm in demanding that they must be allowed to make important decisions like these as a group. This means that government institutions and international organizations can accompany them in the process, but in the end the matter rests in their own hands.

But precisely because of this, the fact that an indigenous community decided to abandon FGM is a double victory, both from the perspective of the protection of human rights as well as that of the protection of the rights of minorities.

At the same time it illustrates the complexity of the task of international organizations fighting to eradicate a practice that affects between 100 and 140 million women and girls in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Around 92 million of them live in Africa alone.

The Embera-Chami were, as far as it is known, the only indigenous community in Colombia who practiced it.


Text: Andrés Bermúdez Liévano
© Linda Mendoza Ramírez


Also on wewomen:
> Waris Dirie and the fight against female circumcision
> Campaigning against female genital mutiliation
> Saving lives through medicine and film


Women in Focus Editor
03/04/2012
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