OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) - A female circumcision rite turned fatal in Burkina Faso, leaving one young girl dead and seven others hospitalised last week, an agency lobbying against the practice said on Thursday.

Scores of girls aged between four and 14 years were circumcised in three villages in Pabre, a district 20 kilometres (12 miles) northwest of the capital Ouagadougou, according to Aina Ouedraogo, head of a national committee against female genital mutilation (FGM).

"It is regrettable," she said that "despite our campaigns of awareness, despite our efforts against circumcision, the practice continues". The practice was outlawed in 1996.

She said the surviving victims are even uncomfortable talking about their experience because of cultural indoctrination.

"They are not able to recount their suffering because it is said to be the tradition," she said.
Romaric Sawadogo, a male nurse at the Sig Noghin medical centre where the survivors are admitted, said four of the girls had third degree mutilations meaning "meaning that the clitoris was removed as were both layers of the labias".

The damage is "irreversable", he added.

Ouedraogo said the girls were circumcised by an octogenarian woman with the consent of their parents.

Police said they have arrested several people in connection with the case.

The west African country banned the practice in 1996 and people found guilty of carrying out female circumcision risk up to five years in prison. But the practise continues clandestinely.
Female genital mutilation is common in many parts of Africa. It can cause death through haemorrhaging and later complications during childbirth. It also carries risks of infection, urinary tract problems and mental trauma.