Harmful Traditional Practices

Circumcised as infants, married off as young as 9 years old, pregnant by early teens... Girls across rural Ethiopia experience some of the most shocking traditional practices. They may be too young to say no. But you can.

Harmful Traditional Practices

OUR AIM: To teach about the dangers associated with harmful traditions and eradicate the practice of these traditions in rural Ethiopia

Our Solution

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice passed down from one generation to the next where the female genitals are partly or entirely removed with the goal to inhibit a woman’s sexual feelings. Those who experience FGM will suffer health complications for life, such as difficulty urinating and menstruating, the fear and pain of penetration during intercourse, increased risk of kidney disease from urinary reflux and devastating childbirth complications like fistula. 

What is child marriage?

Child marriage is when a girl is forced into marriage at a young age, often around the age of 15 years and sometimes as young as 9 years old. She has no choice on who to marry and, once married, she will be under her husband’s command, expected to bear children as soon as possible and take care of the household.

How you're helping eradicate FGM & harmful traditions

We work alongside local freedom fighters and change makers, the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) so that your support can make the most difference to young girls. APDA operates in the isolated, north-east region of Afar where these traditional practices still occur to this day.

Through APDA, your support is working to:

  • Train

    Train Women Extension Workers; local women who have experienced and/or practiced FGM themselves but who now go back out into their communities to teach about the dangers of FGM

  • Educate

    Educate communities on the fact that FGM has no religious significance and how traditions like FGM and child marriage are linked to prevalent health complications later in life

  • Counsel

    Provide counselling for women bound to traditional marriages and assist those suffering from FGM complications to seek medical aid; something they're often too scared to do for fear of prosecution (FGM is illegal in Ethiopia although remote communities still practice it)

  • Lead

    Train and empower local community leaders to defend the rights of women, and help communities form committees to uphold new ways of thinking and not slip back into harmful traditions

Our Impact

How you've helped already: Hasna's Story

Up until two years ago, Hasna carried out female circumcision on girls because of deeply ingrained cultural beliefs about honour and purity.

Today, Hasna is a fierce fighter AGAINST Female Genital Mutilation.

Through the awareness work of local partner APDA, Hasna understands how dangerous FGM is and how it has no religious significance. She now speaks out against FGM in her community and gives families the knowledge and support to move away from this tradition too.

“I am so happy to receive this training and share it with my community,” says Hasna.

“Before, I believed circumcision to be a normal part of our culture. Now, I work every day with my neighbours and leaders to make them more aware of the harm this practice brings, and I will keep fighting for this until the change is everywhere.”

Women Extension Worker Hasna speaking with women about health, safety and rights in rural Ethiopia

Hasna (centre) speaking with mothers in her community about their health, safety and rights