More than 85% of women in Mali undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and no law exists to prohibit the practice. FGM can cause maternal and infant mortality, infection, sterility, psychological and physical harm. But the adverse effects of violating the fundamental rights of girls and women go beyond the physical. With financing from The Federal Republic of Germany through KfW Entwicklungsbank (the German development bank), PSI/Mali is working to reduce the incidence of FGM. It partnered with Mali’s national committee — le Programme National de Lutte contre l’Excision (PNLE) in 2007 and launched the first TV spot to ever air on FGM, which addressed the stigmatization of non-excised women in the country.
Efforts continued that year to address the widespread belief that female circumcision is obligatory for those practicing Islam. PSI/Mali and its partners organized a workshop – entitled 'Islam and Excision, According to the Koran and Hadith.” Experts and leaders from all eight regions of the country, as well as Côte d'Ivoire and the Al Azar University of Egypt, participated in the event.
PNLE and PSI/Mali then recruited Karamoko Befo, a well-known Muslim preacher in Mali, as their spokesperson against FGM. Befo had previously publicly claimed that female circumcision was obligatory for Muslim families, but after further study of the Koran and Hadiths he changed his mind.
PSI/Mali worked with Befo to develop a mass media campaign focusing on the origins of female circumcision; lack of evidence in the Koran that female circumcision is obligatory and that the daughters of the prophet were circumcised; and the medical consequences of the procedure. The campaign, which launched in May, uses radio programs to broadcast messages against FGM.