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One hundred and forty million women around the world are presently living with the effects of female genital mutilation, a practice that has proven difficult to abolish. In Senegal, however, intervention strategies are in place that are proving successful. PBS NewsHour’s Fred de Sam Lazaro interviews Molly Melching, founder of the organization Tostan, which uses a human rights-based education approach in working with Senegalese communities. According to Melching, “Tostan found that using approaches that shame or blame people really was just the opposite of what would work in changing social norms.” Instead, the organization, which means “breakthrough” in the native Wolof language, holds education workshops that involve the entire community and leaves the decision to ban female genital mutilation to the people of the village. With the effective approach of building health and human rights into communities, the initiative has seen results: nearly 5,000 villages have abolished female circumcision in the two decades since Tostan began its work.
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