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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ETHIOPIA: Empowering women to fight FGM/C

August 31, 2010 

AWASH, 19 August 2010 (IRIN) - In the northeastern Ethiopian region of Afar, more than 91 percent of women undergo one of the most severe forms of genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Reproductive health education however, seems to be paying off, with the number of girls affected reducing, albeit gradually. 

“This cut is one of the most horrible things done to a human being - I still suffer from it. But how can we stop it when it is our culture?” asked Use Ahmed, 45, a resident of Awash, southern Afar.

The eastern Somali region has the highest prevalence at 97.3 percent against 73.3 nationally, according to Ethiopia’s 2005 Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS).

In Afar, where the cut involves infibulation (or Type III FGM), the removal of the external genitalia, before sealing and leaving a small opening for menstrual blood, CARE Ethiopia is working with former traditional circumcisers to improve awareness of FGM-related effects. The women are trained in reproductive health education and equipped with skills to run alternative small businesses. 

Clitoraid and Dr. Marci Bowers Urgently Request Correction to Recent AP Article

August 31, 2010 
PR Newswire
LAS VEGAS, Aug. 19 -- Following the Aug. 10, 2010 publication of an Associated Press article, "Female circumcision victims seek out Colo. doctor," by Catherine Tsai, the offices of Clitoraid and of Dr. Marci Bowers MD are asking the Associated Press to rectify an important omission in Tsai's story.

Nowhere in her article did Tsai mention Clitoraid, the parent, non-profit organization Dr. Bowers has been generously volunteering for since 2007. Therefore, the article failed to give a complete picture of the program's international implications. To be clear, Clitoraid ( offers a humanitarian program to restore damage done by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in North America, Asia and especially in Africa. Clitoraid is in the final stages of building a hospital in Burkina Faso (West Africa) to treat all FGM victims free of charge. Dr. Bowers will inaugurate the hospital once it is ready.

Contrary to what Tsai wrote, circumcised women seeking repair should contact Clitoraid, not Dr. Bowers, who along with her staff already volunteers enough time during the surgical process. Furthermore, it's important to note that Clitoraid also handles all post-surgical sexual therapy care under the guidance of sex therapist Dr. Betty Dodson.

Rise in female genital mutilation in London

August 31, 2010
BBC News
Female genital mutilation 'rising in London'

The number of cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) reported in London has risen and some procedures are taking place in the city, a doctor has said.

Dr Comfort Momah, who runs a clinic in Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, said she sees 350 women and children a year.

The Met said it was aware that FGM was taking place in London and had intervened in 122 cases since 2008, including 25 times this year.

But it said that as it was a "taboo" subject there had been no prosecutions.

Sabiny Girls to Fight Circumcision

August 31, 2010
Moses Bikala / New Vision Online
A total of 300 Sabiny girls in Bugiri district have acquired skills to fight female genital mutilation in a campaign dubbed “alternative right to passage”.

Under the campaign, the girls are given skills annually to serve as an initiation rite, instead of undergoing female circumcision as required by the Sabiny culture.

The training is aimed at empowering the girls to choose between what is good and bad in their culture.

Speaking at the passing-out ceremony of the girls at Iwemba Primary School recently, Dalton Chemasuet, the coordinator of adult reproductive health, said there is an urgent need to sensitise the community about the recently passed Female Genital Mutilation Bill.

Female Circumcision Victims Seek Out Colo. Doctor

August 31, 2010 
Catherine Tsai / The Associated Press 

TRINIDAD, Colo. — This picturesque southern Colorado town known for decades as the sex-change capital of the world — thousands of gender-reassignment operations have been performed here — is becoming a beacon for victims of female genital mutilation.

Dr. Marci Bowers has performed about two dozen reconstructive surgeries on mostly African born women victimized as children by the culturally driven practice of female circumcision. Bowers is believed to be one of the few U.S. doctors performing the operation.

Bowers, who underwent a gender reassignment operation in the 1990s at age 40, said she relates to what her mutilation patients describe as a loss of identity, of not feeling whole.

"It took me so long to get there in my own life. I know what the feeling is like, seeking my own identity," she said.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not Anyone’s Daughter

August 30, 2010
The New York Times

Advocates have been fighting to end female genital mutilation across Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia, marking progress one village at a time. The battleground extends to immigrant communities in the developed world, which still value this horrifying ritual.

Female genital mutilation has been banned in the United States since 1996. Representatives Joseph Crowley of New York and Mary Bono Mack of California are now sponsoring legislation that would make it a felony to take a girl out of the country to have the procedure, punishing violators with fines and a five-year prison term. Supporters hope the law will be a deterrent and embolden more young women or their mothers to resist family or community pressure and defend themselves.

Femal Genital Mutilation Helps Spread of HIV/AIDS

August 30, 2010
Winifred Ogbebo / Nigerian Tribune

The Chairman, Senate House Committee on Health, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello, has attributed the partial spread of HIV/AIDS to female genital mutilation(FGM) especially when its done in group of girls.

He explained that since most female genital mutilation is carried out by traditional medicine men and traditional birth attendants who have no knowledge of sterilization and the basics of disease prevention, an instrument that is used on an infected girl may again be used on other girls which will aid the spread of HIV.

At the Women's Empowerment, Domestic Violence, and Female Circumcision national seminar held last week in Abuja, Senator Obasanjo- Bello said curbing FGM will eliminate a potential source of spread of HIV, adding that ending it will aid in achieving the MDGs.

African states push for UN ban on female circumcision

August 30, 2010
DAKAR — Lawmakers from 27 African countries gathered in Dakar on Monday for a two-day conference to push for a UN ban on female genital mutilation as a breach of human rights.
International activists joined envoys from the United Nations and African Union in Senegal to "promote the adoption of a resolution that explicitly bans female genital mutilation as a practice that is contrary to human rights."
The cutting or removal of young girls' and women's clitoris and/or labia affects some 120 to 140 million women in 28 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, according to the World Health Organisation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New study shows female genital mutilation exposes women and babies to significant risk at childbirth

August 27, 2010
The Lancet 

GENEVA -- A new study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that women who have had Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth and that their babies are more likely to die as a result of the practice.

Serious complications during childbirth include the need to have a caesarean section, dangerously heavy bleeding after the birth of the baby and prolonged hospitalization following the birth. The study showed that the degree of complications increased according to the extent and severity of the FGM.

A new study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that women who have had Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth and that their babies are more likely to die as a result of the practice.

Discussion on criminal migrants in France now includes FGM

August 27, 2010
Waris Dirie Foundation
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recently sparked a heated discussion with his statements on young criminals with a non-French background in France, threatening to withdraw their French citizenship (or the right to aquire it when turning 18) in the event of violence against state officials. The French minister of interior Brice Hortefeux now brought FGM into this discussion as well, demanding that citizenship also be withdrawn in the case of "symbolic" crimes that demonstrate an unwillingness to integrate, such as polygamy and female genital mutilation.
Threatening to withdraw someone’s citizenship is certainly not the answer to this problem, since by definition, all citizens are equal before the law and treating those with an immigrant background differently is simply racism”, says Waris Dirie. “While it is very important to enact strict laws against FGM, and even more important to also execute these laws, FGM should not be used as an instrument to stigmatize people with an immigrant background. I support using powerful means to combat FGM, but this is the wrong approach.“

New information on the death of 13-year-old FGM victim in Egypt

August 27, 2010
Waris Dirie Foundation

The Cairo-based weekly newspaper Al-Ahram has published another interesting article on the case of 13-year-old Nermine El-Haddad, who died after undergoing FGM in a public hospital in Egypt earlier this month.
The article quotes Health Minister Mushira Khattab, who reported this case to the Prosecutor-General after her Ministry was informed about the death by another doctor from the hospital where the surgery was performed:

“We must break the wall of silence that surrounds this issue and step up our national campaign to prevent the practice being passed on to the next generation”, she said. “Our target is to make it clear that the practice will not be tolerated in Egypt.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

With UNICEF and EU Support - Young Women Lead the Charge Against Cutting

August 26, 2010
Chris Niles

IMDIBIR, Ethiopia, 24 August 2010 – When she was seven years old, Maeza Garedew, now 14, was blindfolded and her hands and legs tied behind her back. She was laid on a board and then taken outside to the garden.

“They covered my eyes and they tied up my hands until she finished,” Maeza recalled. “When they untied me and opened my blindfold, I slapped the cutter in the face.”

Maeza’s parents decided to have Maeza and her younger sister, Tigist, cut because it was socially expected of them. In many communities in Ethiopia, it is commonly believed that cutting makes daughters more marriageable and less inclined to speak their mind.
“At the time, I hadn’t heard anything about the harms of cutting,” said Maeza’s mother, Tenaya Tessema, a soft-spoken mother of five. “I simply didn’t want them to be out-spoken and insulted by others. I got them cut to spare them that shame.”

Director of ASUDA Combating Violence Against Women Declares: FGM Must be Outlawed

August 26,2010
Khanim Rahim Latif
The dissemination of Human Rights Watch report on 16 June 2010 on FGM and the reactions by activists and NGOs to the report initiated a controversy about the issue. Also, in the last couple of days and on 6 July 2010, the Association of Islamic Clerics in Kurdistan issued a “Fatwa” on FGM in which parents [or guardians] of girls were given the choice of conducting FGM to their girls. Following reactions and pressure on Muslim clerics with respect to the “Fatwa”, the Association of Islamic Cleric in Kurdistan issued a clarification which states “No clear text in Quoran stipulates FGM as a duty or Sunna”, however, in paragraph 4 of the same clarification statement says:“The summary of the Fatwa of Kurdistan High Commission of Fatwa believes, parents [or guardians] have the choice to conduct or refrain from conducting FGM, this freedom of choice is not absolute, but conditional until it is proved that FGM causes immediate or long term health damage to mutilated girls, then they may not go ahead with FGM”.

While such a “fatwa” or at least the clarification followed were expected to bring about a new view point with respect to FGM, but the “fatwa” and the clarification did not propose anything new as presently, and in the past parents are the ones who take the decision of circumcising girls. Moreover, this “fatwa” is putting scientific reports about the health consequences and damage caused by FGM to circumcised girls under question.
The recent “fatwa” comes while some individuals and organizations believe FGM in Kurdistan is a phenomenon while others think the available information about FGM is exaggerated and incorrect.

Uganda Constitutional Court Declares Female Circumcision Unconstitutional

August 26, 2010 
Ultimate Media

Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Thursday declared the practice of female circumcision also known as Female Genital Mutilation as unconstitutional, contending that it abuses the fundamental rights of women.

In a ruling that would have been declared as landmark one had the parliament of Uganda not passed a law banning FGM recently, the five justices of the Constitutional court agreed with the petitioners that the practice of FGM abuses fundamental rights of women and is against the laws of Uganda and several instruments on women’s rights that Uganda is signatory to.

The Constitutional Court justices led by the deputy Chief Justice Leticia Kikonyogo agreed with the petitioners that the practice is not in accordance with Uganda’s laws and the international treaties.

Importing the Third World - Female Genital Mutilation on the Rise in Britain

August 26, 2010
BNP News
Mass immigration has caused the importation of Third World culture on a vast scale into Britain, as evidenced by new figures from the black women’s organisation Forward which estimates that 6,500 girls in the UK are at risk of female genital mutilation every year.
According to Forward, which says that it is “an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works to advance and protect the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of African girls and women,” the most common age for girls to be subjected to the procedure is between six and eight years of age.
“The summer holidays are a prime time, because there is an opportunity for a long visit back to the family’s country of origin. And, although it is illegal in the UK, there is evidence that it is nonetheless being performed in the country,” a Forward representative was quoted as saying in a recent report.
“Female genital mutilation is performed for cultural reasons, and justified as a religious requirement, or rite of passage to womanhood. Much like male circumcision, it is supposed to ensure cleanliness and better marriage prospects.

Despite the criminalization of female genital mutilation another life has been claimed

August 26, 2010Reim Leila / Al-Ahram Weekly 

Eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM) is proving difficult, especially in rural areas and Upper Egypt. On 20 August Mushira Khattab, minister of state for family and population, filed a complaint with Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, instigating an investigation into the death of 13-year-old Nermine El-Haddad.

El-Haddad, from the village of Abu Nashaba in Menoufiya, was a pupil at Al-Khatatba preparatory school. She died after severe haemorrhaging following an operation at Menouf Public Hospital last week conducted by Dr Fatheya Mahmoud Eweida. Fearing legal action against them, her parents did not report the incident to the police. Eweida allowed the burial of El-Haddad without a death certificate or an official burial licence, and the incident only came to attention when one of Eweida's colleagues at the hospital phoned the ministry's child rescue hotline (16000).

Following Khattab's complaint, the prosecutor-general ordered the detention of Eweida who will be referred to Menoufiya Criminal Court.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Doctor Referred to Criminal Court for Death of 13-year old FGM Victim

Marwa Al-A'sar / Egypt Daily News

CAIRO: The Public Prosecutor referred a physician to the criminal court in Menufiya governorate for the death of a 13-year-old girl during a circumcision procedure, press reports said Friday.

Investigations indicated the child bled to death after undergoing the procedure, the reports added.

The doctor was taken into custody pending trial.

Minister of State for Family and Population Moushira Khattab had filed a complaint at the Public Prosecutor’s office demanding that legal measures against whoever was involved in the incident be taken immediately.

In June 2008, the Egyptian parliament made amendments to the Child Law banning FGM and imposing a sentence of a maximum of two years and a fine of a maximum of $1,000 as a penalty for performing it. The law also punishes practitioners, including parents, with between three months and two years in jail.

According to the investigations, the girl was buried without a burial license to avoid any suspicion about the cause of death.

“If proven guilty, the doctor may face two charges, carrying out an illegal practice and manslaughter,” lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center Ahmed Seif El-Islam told Daily News Egypt Friday.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bring an end to Female Genital Mutilation

Category: Human Rights
Region: GLOBAL
Target: All national governments
Web site:
Background (Preamble):
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

According to the World Health Organisation:

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.

In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.

FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
We, the undersigned, urge the governments of the world to put an end to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

This procedure causes permanent physical and mental damage to any person it is performed upon, can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

Click below to:
Sign the petition

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lifting the veil of silence around genital mutilation

August 3, 2010
By Stephanie Bunbury -

Liya Kebede as the young Waris Dirie in Desert Flower.
Liya Kebede as the young Waris Dirie in Desert Flower

Waris Dirie felt she owed it to fellow victims to talk about a private and painful subject, writes Stephanie Bunbury.
IT'S a Cinderella story if ever there was one, the rise and rise of a goat-herding Somalian girl who, at 13, runs away across the desert to escape a forced marriage, gets to London, is spotted working in McDonald's by a fashion photographer and becomes a supermodel. Oh, the glamour, darling! On the way up, she has to learn to wear high heels, to be comfortable stripping off, to negotiate rent and visas and modelling contracts and discos. No wonder Elton John was interested in buying Waris Dirie's story. It had all the elements of another Billy Elliot.
For Dirie, however, her journey from rags to riches was half of that story - and not the important half. Dirie is now 45. For the past 20 years she has campaigned relentlessly against the common African practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) or ''cutting'': the agonising, brutal, often fatal practice of mutilating, and often then sewing, up young girls' genitalia in readiness for marriage.
Waris Dirie had been ''cut''. ''As women, fellow to one another, we have a responsibility,'' she says. ''I thought, 'Nobody is doing anything about this thing that has stayed much longer than I expected; this is not something that is going to go away tomorrow', and I thought, 'Nobody knows better than me, so what are you waiting for?' Because, clearly, that child is waiting for you!''
In an interview she gave to Marie Claire, she revealed what she had endured. From that moment, her fame was merely a springboard. There was an immediate, tidal response. Dirie was asked to address the United Nations, where Kofi Annan appointed her as a special ambassador; in 1997, she published an autobiography Desert Flower. It has sold 11 million copies worldwide and is now a film.
''Be prepared,'' the PR man whispers before Dirie comes in. ''She's a handful. She's not some quiet woman in a veil, you know. She is that girl who walked alone across the desert for days 'til her feet bled.'' How right he is. Dirie's English is random, but she has certainly mastered all available swear words. She says exactly what she thinks. She didn't sell her story to Elton John, she says, because ''I didn't feel him''.
Instead she gave it to Sherry Hormann, a German director who promised her two things: that the film would be an entertainment, not ''an arthouse film about FGM'' and that she would not skirt around the topic that, for her, made her story worth telling. ''If you stop the story where she's a top model, if that is your story outline, she will reject it,'' says Hormann. ''If you say, 'A top model goes public and talks about FGM', she will listen.''
Dirie is played convincingly in the film by Liya Kebede, a very successful model from Ethiopia and a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation on maternal health. Her background was entirely different, however; her interest in fashion started at the French school in Addis Ababa. ''I knew of girls being cut, but it was never close to me,'' she says. ''You know of it but you don't know of it, what it means.''
It can't be easy, she says, to talk about something so intimate. ''It is one thing to go through it personally, having to deal with the issue every day of your life - physically, I mean - but then it's a whole other thing when she decided to tell the whole world about it. Now she has to talk about it every day of her life. I find that courageous because it's not just an issue; it's not just a noble cause, it is something that happened to her and it is very private.''
It's true, says Dirie, that she was torn about making that commitment, but the mere mention of privacy has her spitting like a cobra. The idea that things are too private to mention is, after all, what keeps them shrouded in silence. ''You've got a vagina, I've got a vagina, every man in the world knows you have got one, like he's got a prick and an arse!'' she snaps. ''There is nothing to be ashamed [of], that it should not be discussed because it is private! But then it is private and should not be touched - that is the point. And it's not just my world, it's everywhere.''
She watched the film of her life alone in a specially rented cinema. Afterwards, she held Hormann for a long time, then went to cry in the toilet. It is the entertainment she asked for. Juliet Stevenson makes a wonderfully grasping models' agent, while Meera Syal does a fine comic turn as an Indian landlady. But, Dirie says, she doesn't think she will be able to watch it again.
''I know I am one of the lucky ones, really and truly one of the blessed,'' she says. ''Am I angry in myself at what has happened to me? No, I'm sad about it. Can I do anything about that? No, I can't.
''But I'm sad this ignorance is still happening. I know the world knows it's wrong. If I'm angry, I'm angry with those who have the knowledge to change something and are not changing it.''