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19.10.2005 Regional News

NGO initiates programme to eliminate FGM

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Banda-Ahenkro (B/A), Oct.19, GNA - IBIS Ghana, an NGO, has initiated a programme to eliminate the practising of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Widowhood rites within Banda Traditional Area in Brong-Ahafo.

Mr. Vasco Manje, Coordinator of Nafaanra Literacy Project of the NGO said with the consent of Okokyeredom Kwadwo Sito I, Omanhene of the Traditional Area, chiefs and elders, an intensive education programme had begun within the 23 communities in the area on the need to abolish the two outmoded customary practices.

Mr Manje in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at Banda-Ahenkro said the traditional authorities had agreed to perform purification rites to mark the beginning of the process of abolishing the practices. "FGM will be transformed into a female child initiation rite to teach girls at the age of puberty traditional catering, marriage norms and later initiated into womanhood," He added.

Mr. Manje said people who violate the law would pay a fine of seven sheep or money equivalent to the cost of seven sheep before facing prosecution at the law court.

On widowhood rites, the Coordinator said the process of shaving the hair of a widow, forbidding her to use footwear, leaving the top part of her body always bare for a year have been amended. The widow, he said, would now wear black clothes, her hair would not be shaved and would walk bare-footed for only six months. Mr. Manje said IBIS Ghana had provided funds for the educational campaign and the purification rites. Okokyeredom Sito said the purification rites would be performed at the end of the "Fodwoo Yam Festival" of the chiefs and people of the area.

He expressed gratitude to the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), National Council on Women and Development (NCWD) and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Nafaanra Literacy Project and IBIS Ghana, for their support.