Colombian indigenous tribe bans female genital mutilation

The Embera Chamí leaders compromised to eliminate this practice

Colombian indigenous tribe 

Leer en Español: Comunidad indígena colombiana elimina la mutilación genital femenina

The Embera Chamí is an ethnic tribe part of the Embera dialectic group. One of their traditions is the female genital mutilation. This practice is considered the marking point in which a girl officially becomes a woman. Within this community, mutilation is necessary to get married or to achieve a high social status.

Some historians think that the ablation started back in the XVIII century. Some say catholic nuns implemented it while others formulate that it was simply copied from African slaves.

The female genital mutilation is, basically, the process in which the clitoris is either partially or completely eliminated. As a consequence of this action, women don’t experience sexual pleasure during intercourse which is considered a violation of the women and girls rights.

The leaders of the Embera Chamí community, located in Valle del Cauca province, made a pact with the local government to eliminate said practice within their people. The pact benefits the population who live in 18 municipalities in the province.

Women in the Embera community think that mutilation prevents certain illnesses which is completely false.  What's true is that the female genital mutilation may lead to infections and, sometimes, even death. This is why the government and the indigenous leaders started an educational program to inform the people of the myths and realities of female genital mutilation.

Last August, a newborn girl died in Trujillo, Valle del Cauca. Local doctors assured that the death came as a consequence of female mutilation.

According to the last census, the Embera community is made up of approximately 30.000 people; they live in the provinces of Risaralda, Caldas, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca and Quindío


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández 

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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