A barbaric practice is coming to an end in the Senegal. An estimated 92 million African girls and women have had their clitoris sliced off with nothing to dull the pain.
Despite millions of dollars poured into the campaign by the United Nations, change is now happening quickly and sweeping across the country, village by village, largely thanks to an informal coalition made up of Molly Melching, an Illinois educator, Senegalese imam, Demba Diawara, and California professor Gerry Mackie.
Careful not to label the ritual barbaric, Melching and Co. has spent years educating villagers of the dangers of the practice of genital cutting. They described daughters and sisters who had hemorrhaged and sometimes died from botched circumcisions.
The village of Malicounda Bambara vowed to end the custom in 1997, and other villages have been slowly following suit. African parents actually claimed to have followed the convention "out of love for their daughters."
Surprisingly, it is not the men, the elders, who are responsible for perpetuating female circumcision, but women.
The elderly woman, Bassi Boiro, Sare Harouna’s 'cutter,' would perform the ritual away from the settlement so "men couldn’t hear the girl’s screams.”
Typically, four women held down the arms and legs of a girl between the age 5 and 7, while Boiro cut off the girl's clitoris with a knife handed down through generations until it became “too dull to even cut okra.”
She then switched to razor blades. Boiro apparently claimed she didn't realize the harm she was causing.