Landlocked Burkina Faso is home to one of the highest national poverty rates per capita in the world. In 2015, Burkina Faso was ranked 183rd out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. This extreme poverty has somewhat acted as a catalyst for the development of strong gender inequality, and has resulted in high rates of violence against women and girls. This violence materialises in various ways, including rape, forced and early marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), and denial of access to monetary income or land. These acts are ingrained within the traditions, customs and cultural practices of Burkinabé society, making it extremely challenging to bring an end to such violence. Despite this, Burkina Faso is a shining example of a country that is effectively tackling the practice of FGM, with the prevalence among girls aged 15-19 dropping 31% over the past 30 years.
Background to FGM
FGM refers to “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO). It is internationally recognised as one of the most brutal human rights violations in contemporary society. According to Unicef, this form of gender-based violence currently affects around 200 million women and girls worldwide, with the procedure being predominantly carried out on young girls up to the age of 15.