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Colombian baby girl dies after circumcision

posted by Miriam Wells
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Colombia Reports - Indigenous

A 15-day-old baby from an indigenous tribe in western Colombia has died after her clitoris was removed in a banned ancestral practice, reported Radio Caracol Monday.

The infant, who died of a haemorrage, belonged to the Embera-Chami tribe in the Valle de Cauca department, which pledged in 2010 to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The mayor of Ansermanuevo, Jose Luis Herrera, said the baby had left the hospital in good health. “The case [has been referred] to the governor of the community, because they had promised to stop these activities,” he said.

The death of a young Embera-Chami girl in 2007 brought attention to the practice of FGM among the tribe, which has a population of about 5,000.

The United Nations Population Fund approached Embera-Chami leaders to ask if it could start a community project exploring the origins of FGM in the tribe and teaching about the physical and psychological harm it causes.

It was discovered it probably dated from the time of colonial rule, when there had been a lot of contact with African communities brought to Colombia as slaves.

After one year of work, the community decided it would stop the practice for a trial period of two years. At the end of the two years, it was decided to end the practice permanently and enforce severe punishments for anyone who carried it out.

About the author

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Miriam Wells is a former BBC radio producer from the UK, now freelancing in Colombia. She additionally worked for The Sunday Times (UK), Christian Science Monitor, Toronto Star and InSight Crime, among others.

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