Overcoming Violence

Stories of Gender Based Violence

Bogaletch Gebre


Bogaletch Gebre

In parts of Ethiopia the number of circumcised girl babies has sunk dramatically. Bogaletch Gebre has much of the credit for it.

Bogalech Gebre is the founder of the grass root organization Kembetti Mentti Gezzimma (KMG). KMG has been NCA's partner since 1977. During all those years the organization has been working persistently for the reproductive health of women and girls – and it has produced fantastic results.

I southern parts of Ethiopia the number of circumcised girl babies has sunk dramatically.

Great damages

- I was nearly bleeding to death, Bogaletch has told, explaining the procedure, which was carried out when she was twelve.

Female genital mutilation includes procedures altering or damaging women´s genitals, without any medical reason. Around 140 million women and girls are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation. The damages can include serious bleedings, problems with urination, infections, infertility and danger for mother and child in connection with delivery.

-Nothing to do with culture

In 2013 Bogaletch Gebre won the prestigious King Baudouin prize for the work against genital mutilation. On this occation, she said to BBC:

-Circumcision has nothing to do with culture. We don´t know where this custom comes from. How can something that kills women, damage women, damage children be accepted as culture?

The practice is most common in The Middle East and in some countries in Africa, in societies where religion often plays a central role. KMG works through conversation groups in local societies to fight genital mutilation. Here the religious leaders are really important.

Genital mutilation is a subject that is sensitive and under taboo in many societies. Because of this, an important tool to create space for discussing this issue is the conversation groups. Bogaletch Gebre says this to elder people promoting genital mutilation:

-Your time has gone. This is our time, our children´s time. We don´t want to take the life away from our children. I hope you are wise enough to accept that.

Religious leaders are important

NCA is working heavily with religious leaders in Ethiopia to fight genital mutilation. Religion has a central position in Ethiopian society, and leaders within different religions therefore have great influence on the people. The national church institutions in Ethiopia have now officially declared zero tolerance against circumcision. The largest religious institutions are also condemning the practice and have declared that neither the Bible nor the Koran supports circumcision.