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People in Mali face recurrent droughts and food shortages. The situation in Mali has been exacerbated by political violence which has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. SOS Children's Villages works in three locations across the country, and has recently launched emergency relief in Mali to protect families affected by the fighting. … more about our charity work in Mali

Cinema helps turn tide on female genital cutting in Mali

A mobile cinema that travels from village to village in remote areas of Mali, is working to change lives and attitudes about women’s and girl’s health. The Cinéma Numérique Ambulant sets up an outdoor screen to show entertaining and educational films that encourage communities to talk about children’s and women’s health. After the screenings, female genital mutilation or cutting, is discussed openly.

More than 85 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 in Mali have been circumcised, a practice that has many harmful physical and psychological effects. Across the world, the figure is up to 140 million women and girls in 28 countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East. "The female genital mutilation or cutting poses immediate and long-term consequences for the health of women and girls and violates their human rights", the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday, before the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation.

The mobile cinema, backed by UNICEF, turned Djènèba Doumbia’s attitudes on the practice on their head. Since seeing the film, she no longer supports female cutting and now does not want to pass the tradition on to the daughters of the community. “I tell all women not to circumcise their daughters, to leave them as they are, because we realize that the disadvantages of this practice are numerous and real,” said Ms Doumbia. “So if they let the girls be, the whole family benefits.”

Women at the aftershow discussion hear how those who have been cut are more likely than uncut women to have complications in and after childbirth. A study by the World Health Organization, said complications stemming from the practice include maternal infection, haemorrhage and newborn asphyxia. Cutting also contributes to high child and maternal mortality rates. Mali’s maternal death rate is among the highest in the world; 1 in every 15 women in the country dies as a result of pregnancy. It also makes tearing is more likely during childbirth as well as infections and sometimes, crippling lifelong complications. Many women also say that sex with their husbands is very painful after cutting.  In many countries men are often more opposed to the practice than women, so the "approach must be one that involves the whole community." Elise Johansen from the World Health Organisation said

Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa and among the 25 poorest countries in the world.

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children