Harmful Traditional Practices

Adolescent girls in the Afar region of Ethiopia are facing dangerous Harmful Traditional Practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriage and gender-based violence. These practices not only threaten their health and livelihood, but perpetuate old views about the standing of women in society. It's a cycle that needs to end.

Harmful Traditional Practices

ETHIOPIAID'S AIM: To assist APDA in teaching communities in the Afar region about the dangers associated with Harmful Traditional Practices against girls such as FGM and early marriage.

Our Solution

APDA (Afar Pastoralist Development Association) is an organisation striving to eradicate harmful traditional practices against women in the Afar region of Ethiopia, focusing specifically on the dangerous practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the lack of rights for women in traditional marriage.

FGM is an ancient cultural practice inflicted upon babies and girls, some as young as 24 hours and up to 12 years of age. It is a horrible truth that some children don’t survive the procedure and die of bleeding. There are different levels or ‘types’ of FGM, with the Afar tradition undertaking the most severe form with devastating side effects.

In addition to the mental and emotional side affects induced by the trauma of the procedure, there are a myriad of physical issues victims are left to endure. FGM often leaves females with difficulty urinating and menstruating, as well as the fear and pain of penetration during intercourse. Kidney disease from urinary reflux is common in Afar girls and women. The horrific effects of FGM make having a ‘normal’ birth impossible. This added complication during child birth is the reason for the high maternal death rate and rate of obstetric fistula in the Afar region.

These young girls do not have the same rights we are so fortunate to enjoy in our daily lives. Many of them are forced into marriage at the age of 15  years or even less. The choice on who to marry is never theirs and often the couple do not know each other before they are married. Once married they are under their husbands command, forced to bear children and take care of the household.

ADPA understands it takes a community to create change. Through an ongoing campaign against these Harmful Traditional Practices, APDA is working with key members of the Afar community, training and empowering religious leaders to defend the rights of women as well as forming community committees to oversee the eradication of Harmful Traditional Practices.

Women extension workers are also at the core of changing the discourse surrounding the rights of girls. Afar women are trained and empowered to be agents of change. These women are employed to go out into their communities to educate and empower women by:

  • Demonstrating to the community the stopping of FGM and other harmful practices
  • Seeking out those who perform FGM and assist them to stop
  • Encouraging those who are suffering the effects of FGM to seek and get treatment
  • Counselling women on issues related to marriage problems
  • Training traditional birth attendants and monitor their activities
  • Providing education on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, disease prevention
  • Assisting in and advising women’s income generating cooperatives

Whilst working toward ending Harmful Traditional Practices, APDA is creating an open dialogue in the community, bringing taboo subjects to light and putting a stop to women suffering in silence. 

Our Impact

Ethiopiaid Australia's partnership with APDA was launched on a very fitting date: February 6th 2015, the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. 

We are incredibly proud to be supporting APDA in their tireless efforts to end Harmful Traditional Practices across the Afar region. By enabling APDA to reach out to more communities and train more Women Extension Workers, we can finally start to shift the conversation away from girls and women as property and towards a discourse that sees girls and women as autonomous, equal and active citizens of the Afar community.

Case Studies

Read our case studies here