Written by Staff Writer, CNN
Bengali woman Rinky Gabulla may not have been pleased when her state’s governor approved new details about female genital mutilation (FGM) for this year’s census.
“In exchange for getting the impression that the regime has changed, he gave away a sensitive and totally discriminative demographic data pattern,” she tells CNN. “I personally don’t think [this) will help to improve the State of Cameroon’s framework of governance or its programs concerning women’s emancipation.”
Like Gabulla, the NGO REDI, which supports FGM victims in Cameroon, has pushed against the government’s changes to the census, despite government efforts to convince them of the benefits of the update.
“We believe data is the only way to challenge the marginalization of women and that information at a local level offers us a snapshot of situation at a grassroots level,” says Chief Executive Sarah Meyln.
“The alteration did not respect our (or the government’s) request that the census coordinator put data revealing the presence of the abnormal formation at a minimum of 50% of families.”
The new data has been revealed publicly ahead of the 2017 census, but Meyln believes it shows a rise in FGM that is not in line with Cameroon’s constitution.
“For example, in 2012 we found that less than 2% of women reported the radicalization, but during the revisions and following military operations against criminal networks and leaders (Cameroon has already experienced eight years of anti-FGM efforts) 3.7% reported the radicalization, a fact which is clearly not in line with the constitution of Cameroon,” she told CNN.
Rediplision said the government declined requests to be interviewed on the change in data.
Despite the changes to the data, including the numbers which were released, Cameroon will still use COVID-19 data, which released information about FGM and other formal categories, due to allow for accurate “regional analysis.” The government confirmed the new data had been released to local media.
According to the president of REDI, most Cameroonians did not agree with the change to the data.
“The Cameroonians we have spoken to in some parts of Cameroon (North) do not agree with the change, but the few of them who did agree, the major reason was that they wanted to know more about their rights,” she told CNN.
The Cameroonian government will be able to look at COVID-19 data when preparing for the next census.
In Cameroon, Girls at Risk offers a program to seek funds to procure funding and potential co-producers. A change in Cameroonian law may allow the program to operate domestically.
According to REDI, most children affected by FGM are from marginalized, rural areas.