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UN Women mobilises religious leaders in Ethiopia against FGM
UN Women has reported on the progress it has made in mobilising representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to speak out against gender-based violence in the country, including female genital mutilation (FGM).
The UN entity has spearheaded a campaign in Woldia and Kobo - two districts in the northern Amhara region - under which religious leaders have taken an active role raising awareness of violence against women, and challenging harmful practices like early marriage and FGM.
"As a priest, people listen to me and that gives me a position to speak out against gender-based violence," said Kobo district priest Melakesina. "[The campaign has] raised issues that have too long been silenced. One of them is harmful traditional practices."
According to government surveys, around 23 per cent of girls in Ethiopia undergo FGM - though in Amhara, this rises to 47 per cent.
The practice is often defended on the grounds that it is justified by religion, but Melakesina argued it has "nothing to do" with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's teachings.
Meanwhile, population surveys suggest that around 68.4 per cent of women in the country believe that 'wife-beating' is justifiable. Many are unaware of laws against gender-based violence.
Posted by Alexandra Ward