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Project October 7, 2016

Ending Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia


A mother in southern Ethiopia (right) underwent female genital mutilation as a young woman
A mother in southern Ethiopia (right) underwent female genital mutilation as a young woman. But because of KMG's work, her daughter (left) and other girls in their community will not undergo the harmful practice. Image by Amy Yee. Ethiopia, 2016.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a brutal practice that affects 200 million girls and women worldwide. A growing movement to end FGM has gained momentum and laws have been passed in Egypt, Nigeria, the UK and other countries. Yet in many countries where FGM was banned, it is still practiced. Real change has to come from the ground up, from within communities.

In this project, journalist Amy Yee looks at the pioneering work of Bogaletch Gebre of Ethiopia. Gebre founded a nonprofit called KMG that helped reduce the incidence of FGM from 97 percent to 3 percent in her home region of Kembatta Tembaro. This happened through on-the-ground outreach and working within communities.

Gebre underwent FGM herself as a girl; her sister died from it. As a girl, her father opposed her going to school but she went anyway. Gebre eventually went on to be a Fulbright scholar in the U.S. and started a PhD in California. It was only in the U.S. that she learned more about FGM since it was a taboo subject in Ethiopia. Incensed, she returned home and made combating FGM her life's work.

KMG is now expanding its work to other parts of Ethiopia. This project looks closely at KMG's work and why and how it was successful. It also tells the stories of girls, mothers, fathers, community leaders and others who made this change possible.