Cote d'Ivoire National Assembly members are debating whether to pass a law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) or launch a campaign focused on educating the population on related health threats and human rights issues. Approximately 43 percent of Ivoirian women and girls have been circumcised, and doctors estimate that as much as 25 percent of the country's infertility could be caused by FGM.
The Ministry of Women and Family Welfare, the United Nation's Population Fund (UNFPA) and women's groups are working to ban the centuries-old practice. The Ministry of Women and the UNFPA recently held a three-day seminar for Ivoirian legislatures on the issue.
Minister for Women and Family Welfare Albertine Gnanazan Hepie said, "There are three arguments used to promote the practice of female circumcision -- religion, mutilation as a form of purification and mutilation as a way of integrating young girls into adult society. All of these arguments have no religious and moral justification." Hepie added, "With the law in place, people would fear to continue with the practice knowing that they would be punished when caught."