Why Do Harmful Practices Persist?

Oct 15 , 2022
By Abraham Tekle

In absolute terms, Ethiopia has the most significant number of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the third highest rate of child marriage in eastern and southern Africa. A study reveals that 65pc of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 years have experienced various degrees of this social vice. The nature of these practices is clearly in violation of universal human rights standards.

Contrast this to its place in the world community as a country with a long history and reputation as one of the few civilizational states.

Undoubtedly, it is a country with plenty of traditions to promote and heritages worth preserving. But, it is also a country with harmful traditional practices, harmful to its many citizens' health and social conditions. The well-being of mothers and children has been impacted in the name of keeping with tradition. Various studies have identified no less than 12 harmful traditional practices, from early marriage and abduction to food deprivation to massaging the abdomen during pregnancy.

Among young women aged 20 to 24 years, 40.3pc were married before the legal age of 18. A little above 14pc of these are children aged younger than 15. Not only should this be abhorrent to accept. It is also a hole in the collective consciousness.

The problem with harmful traditional practices is not only a health crisis. It also has become a human right issue. It gets thornier when linked to women and gender issues as well as child survival and development. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts traditional practices as a recognized issue concerning women's and girls' status and human rights.

These profoundly harmful traditional practices pose significant challenges to the gender division of labour. A societal pattern where women handle one set of roles and men handle another creates a division of labour unequal reward system between teh sex.

Discrimination against women in this sense causes them to get much of the labour burden and most of the unpaid labour. But men collect most of the benefits and rewards resulting from the unfair labour division. In many countries, the most noticeable pattern in the gender-based labour division is where women are limited to unpaid domestic work and food production. In contrast, men dominate cash crop production and wage employment.

Again, such practices are against the universally recognized right to equality and freedom from discrimination.

These challenges may require a robust approach.

Despite encouraging trends, Ethiopia's challenges of eliminating harmful practices persist. The reluctance to enforce the laws should be considered as the victims need to be protected, providing them with medical and psychological support, and ensuring that they can access support systems during their times of adversity.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 15,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1172]

(abrhamtekele47@gmail.com) is a graduate of Journalism and Communications from AAU and Fortune’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief whose interests are the value of society and accurate information.

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