BOGOTA - Eastern Colombia's Embera-Chami tribe Wednesday announced it was banning its centuries-old practice of female circumcision, after a girl died from the mutilation three years ago, a tribal elder told AFP.
"We've arrived at this decision after a three-year investigation and consulting with midwives, tribal elders and the community at large," said Risaralda province Regional Indigenous Council leader Martin Siagama.
"We realized that (cutting off the clitoris) is not traditional practice in our indigenous community, but was brought here by Europeans more than 500 years ago," he said.
"Not even the midwives knew what it was for," Siagama added.
He said he undertook a personal quest to ban the practice after a young girl died three years ago from the crude operation. He said the United Nations helped in his investigation that resulted in the Embera-Chami's ban.
However, Siagama said it would take time for his people to adapt to the change.
"It's difficult to eradicate a centuries-old practice overnight, so we can't say it will stop immediately. But we're committed to... promoting the decision among all the members of our community."