by Sada Mire, The Guardian, Mon 9 Mar 2020 19.00 AEDT
Over the last century there have been numerous global resolutions, and FGM is now acknowledged internationally as a human rights violation. It has been criminalised in several western nations, including the UK, and in 19 African countries, FGM carries some sort of penalty. Media campaigns have helped. And grassroots organisations in the west, in Africa and in other affected countries are fighting the practice incessantly.
But as an archaeologist I’ve been researching the history of FGM, and I’ve found it to be far more deep-rooted in cultural traditions than most campaigners – not to mention many who practice it – realise. These roots are long forgotten, even within the north-eastern African societies where it began. And this lack of knowledge has hampered efforts to tackle the issue.