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Friday, April 29, 2011

Breaking News: Tahirih Wins Key Immigration Case

April 27, 2011
Tahirih Justice Center

Immigration Judge Reverses Himself in High-Profile Asylum Case: Acknowledges Close Connection Between Female Genital Mutilation and Other Threats to Women’s Life and Freedom

Falls Church, VA—April 26, 2011. In a significant decision issued last week, an immigration judge reversed himself in a high-profile asylum case (Matter of A-T-), finally granting protection to a young woman who had suffered female genital mutilation (FGM) and feared further persecution if she were returned to Mali.

The decision reflects a critical course-correction from earlier decisions by both the judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) (the nation’s highest immigration court) that held asylum claims by women who have suffered FGM to a higher legal standard than claims by other asylum applicants.

Ms. “A-T-” is still coping with the life-long painful effects of the FGM to which she was subjected as a child in Mali. Growing up under a violent and controlling father, Ms. A-T- was kept a virtual prisoner in her home, and only allowed outside to attend school. After traveling to the United States to further her studies, Ms. A-T- was ordered home by her father, who intended to force her into a marriage with her first cousin. Fearing forced marriage by her father, rape and beatings by her prospective husband, and violent repercussions from her father if she resisted, Ms. A-T- filed an asylum application requesting protection and permission to remain in the United States.

The immigration judge originally denied her protection in 2005, and in a 2007 opinion, the BIA had initially agreed with that decision, reasoning that Ms. A-T- was unable to prove that she would face future persecution upon return to Mali because FGM is a “one-time” occurrence that cannot be repeated. The BIA also rejected her fear of forced marriage, finding that it did not amount to persecution. In a particularly appalling comment, the BIA mused that because Ms. A-T- and her prospective husband “are of similar ages and backgrounds,” the forced marriage should not “disadvantage her.” [1]

The BIA’s 2007 decision established a more difficult legal standard for women attempting to obtain protection based on past FGM than for other individuals seeking refuge in the United States based on past persecution, who were not similarly required to show that the exact same type of harm that they experienced in the past would befall them in the future. This higher standard is both unfair and nonsensical—just as it would be illogical “to find that a political dissident whose tongue was cut out could be found to have no fear of future harm on account of her political opinion, merely because she cannot again lose her tongue [o]r that a man whose house is burned down on account of his tribal identity fears no future danger since that house has already been destroyed.” [2]

In 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey intervened, identified the flaws in the BIA’s legal analysis, and set aside the BIA’s decision in Matter of A-T-, instructing that because forms of gender-based violence are often interconnected, evidence of past FGM may well indicate that a woman will be subjected to other forms of gender-based persecution in the future. In 2009, following the Attorney General’s directive that the case be reconsidered, the BIA sent Matter of A-T- back to immigration court for a new hearing before the original judge in the case. Before the Attorney General stepped in to correct the legal standards to be applied, the BIA’s decision had already begun to have devastating effects around the country on women’s asylum claims based on past FGM, denying protection to some applicants and resulting in government attempts to rescind protection already granted to others.

Last week’s favorable decision in Matter of A-T-, which was pending for over six years before US immigration courts, signals the return of immigration courts from a disturbing departure they had begun to take in the handling of women’s asylum claims. The fact that the immigration judge not only reversed his earlier 2004 decision and evaluated the full extent of future harm that Ms. A-T- faced, but also, after reviewing the extensive evidence submitted by Ms. A-T-’s legal team, finally gave due weight and consideration to Ms. A-T-’s fear of a forced marriage (acknowledging that “the prospect of being subjected to repeated spousal rape would, standing alone, rise to the level of persecution” [3]), marks a significant victory.

After School in Brooklyn, West African Girls Share Memories of a Painful Ritual

April 25, 2011
The New York Times
Nadia Sussman

In a high school classroom in Brooklyn with walls adorned with algebra problems, a 15-year-old girl born in the West African nation of Guinea was talking recently with her friends, after the school day had ended.

The small group — all the students had roots in West Africa — was there not to discuss quadratic equations, but something much more personal.

The 15-year-old was sharing the memory of the day back in her homeland when a neighbor duped her into going to a hospital. There, she was tied down, and restrained, and subjected to genital cutting.

She was 8 at the time, and had to be hospitalized for the bleeding. “I got sick,” the girl said. “I was about to die.”

After she had healed, a celebration was held in her honor.

Now a high school sophomore, the girl belongs to a group of young West Africans who all share the experience of having been subjected to genital cutting, a procedure that is sometimes called circumcision and that opponents refer to as female genital mutilation.

The issue has largely been considered a foreign human rights concern but is starting to pose a bigger challenge here with an increase in the number of immigrants from countries in Africa and elsewhere where the practice is most common.

A conference on Wednesday at Harlem Hospital, hosted by the hospital and by the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families, a group based in the Bronx that works to end female genital cutting, will focus on the physical and emotional needs of women in the United States who have experienced it.

Female genital cutting was banned in the United States in 1996. Some parents send daughters overseas to have it done; other girls are cut by relatives without their parents’ knowledge while on vacation abroad.

A 19-year-old woman from Guinea whose genitals were cut before she moved to the United States said her 13-year-old sister was 6 when their parents arranged for her to undergo the procedure while visiting their homeland. “Since she was there, they did it for her,” said the 19-year-old, who lives in Brooklyn.

Like all of the young women interviewed for this article, she asked not to be identified, saying that she did not want to be publicly associated with an intimate and controversial procedure.

In some families, parents oppose female genital cutting, but the decision about whether or not to have it done is not always theirs to make. Many elders in West African communities hold great social authority and do not seek parental permission to have it done to a girl.

The 15-year-old from Guinea was cut without the consent of her mother, who was living in the United States while her daughter was being raised in Africa by the girl’s paternal grandmother — who also was not consulted.

Female genital cutting is controversial even in countries where it is performed, and opponents have lobbied their governments for decades to outlaw the practice. Campaigns to end the practice have made strides in countries like Senegal and Burkina Faso.

The practice can cause a variety of medical problems, including extensive bleeding, infection, painful menstruation and complications during childbirth. Some women are leery of seeking medical care because they fear their doctors’ reaction.

“It bothers me a lot when I go to doctor visits, how they don’t understand,” said an 18-year-old woman from Guinea whose genitals were cut and who lives in the Bronx. “The look in their face tells you that they are shocked or confused.”

Female genital cutting is practiced in more than two dozen African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East, and the World Health Organization estimates that up to 140 million women have undergone it.

Female genital cutting refers to a range of procedures performed without a medical purpose. They range from clitoridectomy, the removal of part or all of the clitoris, to infibulation, in which all the outer genitalia are removed and the vagina is sealed, often with stitches, except for a small opening. Despite the risks and the controversy, the cutting is, in many places, grounded in strongly held beliefs about cleanliness, chastity and coming of age.

“This is not done with ill intent,” said Zeinab Eyega, the executive director of Sauti Yetu. “This is actually done to embrace the child, to bring the child into the fold of the community.” Nonetheless, Ms. Eyega said the practice was dangerous and needed to be stopped.

Whatever the arguments over the practice, the experience often leaves indelible memories.

“That day was the worst day of my life,” said a 16-year-old high school sophomore in the Bronx. She said she was cut at her grandmother’s house in Guinea when she was 4.

One 17-year-old from the Bronx who was cut at an aunt’s house in Ivory Coast learned of the medical risks by watching a television report about a girl who had been cut and could not have children.

“It made me feel angry, because maybe that can happen to me,” said the 17-year-old, who has been in the United States for eight months. “And it make me feel like my aunt lied to me, but I feel like she doesn’t know, too. She just taught me the way they taught her, too.”

Sauti Yetu and other organizations run peer support groups for African high school students and provide counseling for women who have been cut.

Some opponents of the practice are also pressing for federal legislation to make it a crime to deliberately take or send a girl overseas to be cut.

“It’s not preventing people from going for vacation,” said Mariama Diallo, a social worker with Sanctuary for Families, a Manhattan nonprofit group that opposes genital cutting. “But the girls will feel protected.”

But Ms. Eyega said such a law would discourage women from reporting the procedure or seeking help, out of fear of causing legal trouble for their families.

The bill is sponsored by Representatives Joseph Crowley, Democrat of Queens, and Mary Bono Mack, Republican of California. Nevada and Georgia, as well as several European countries, have adopted similar laws.

More than anything else, girls and young women who have been cut seem to want to be accepted in their new homeland. The 19-year-old from Brooklyn, who was cut in Guinea, said, “They shouldn’t think Africans are weird just because of that.”

The midwife on a mission to stop female genital mutilation

April 15, 2011
The Guardian
Joanna Moorhead

It feels incongruous to be sitting in a cafe in Kendal – a town they call "the gateway to the Lake District" – discussing women's rights in the Rift Valley. And yet it couldn't be more relevant: because Cath Holland, the down-to-earth Lancashire midwife I'm with, has managed almost singlehandedly, and in her spare time, on a tiny budget, to steer an entire province of northern Kenya towards eradicating a practice that surely rates as the most extreme example of male domination today.

Holland – a nurse and midwife who works on the labour ward at Furness General Hospital – first went to Kenya with VSO back in 1998. She was in her late 40s: her two sons were in their early 20s, and she felt she wanted an adventure. She was sent to be a midwifery tutor at a nursing school in the Cherangani Hills in Pokot, an area of Kenya that the Lonely Planet Guide describes as "East Africa's best-kept secret".

But when Holland arrived, she discovered Pokot had another secret – and it wasn't one travel books boasted about. The community still practised a form of female genital mutilation (FGM) that the World Health Organisation considers the most extreme – in which the entire outer genitalia, including the clitoris, are removed.

As a midwife, Holland saw the consequence: women giving birth had vaginal openings too narrow to let a baby through. "In that area, they say there are three sorrows of womanhood. The first is when a girl has her genitalia removed, usually in her teens. The second is when she gets married, and has to have her vagina opened so she can have penetrative sex, which is usually done using an animal's horn. And the third is when she gives birth, and has to be cut again so the baby can be born."

'I will never be cut': Kenyan girls fight back against genital mutilation Link to this video The practice turns healthy teenage girls into women with chronic ill-health – kidney problems, pelvic and back pain, infertility and birth difficulties are common. And they are the lucky ones: others won't survive the blood loss of the initial procedure or will contract HIV from the knives used, or die giving birth, or have stillborn or brain-damaged babies.

Holland abhorred the practice from the moment she came into contact with its effects. "At its root," says Holland, "FGM is all about patriarchy. It's about controlling women – controlling their sexuality, controlling their libido. In communities like Pokot it's regarded as a prerequisite for marriage." But her life was changed when a young girl she'd befriended in the village where she lived asked her if she'd like to attend her initiation ceremony – the event at which she would be mutilated.

"Nellie was about 14, and she often called in at my house on her way to and from school," she remembers. "One day she was a bit shy and coy, and she told me it was her initiation ceremony next week – and she wanted me to be there. As far as she was concerned, this was an important day on her life's journey. To me it was a tragedy, for her it was a rite of passage."

Holland says the event was like a village party – until they brought out the girls. "The men were all standing with their backs turned. I was with the women – and the sense of solidarity, and horror, was almost palpable," she remembers. "There were two circumcisers – they moved quickly from one girl to the next, cutting their labia." Then, says Holland, the girls were led to a wooded area, away from the men, for the more extensive cutting. "It was horrendous," she says. "And none of the girls cried out, because they'd had it drilled into them that they had to bear it without making a sound."

Afterwards, Holland couldn't forget what she'd seen. "It haunted me," she says. "I knew I couldn't just go home, go back to my old job, forget all about it. Because there were more girls like Nellie, and it was going to go on and on. I couldn't turn my back on it."

Back in Cumbria after her two years with VSO, Holland roped in her colleagues and friends to help her fundraise. In 2005, when they had collected enough money, she persuaded Miriam Lopus and Rhoda Lodio, two Kenyan midwives she knew from Pokot, to travel to Kendal and meet specialists who campaign against FGM. "I felt midwives were key," she says. "They see the effects of FGM – educating them had to be the way to start.

"They'd never had passports, and they'd never been on a plane. But they came, and I took them to meet doctors at places like Liverpool Women's Hospital, so they could learn more about FGM and its effects."

But the bigger battle, as Holland was aware, lay in convincing the community to put an end to the practice. She returned to Pokot once or twice a year and kept in touch with Nellie, now a mother of two. FGM had led Nellie, as it does for many girls, to early marriage and an end to schooling. (Improving educational opportunities for women will, says Holland, be another ambition of the anti-FGM campaign in the long term.)

Over the years, events were held to educate different sections of the community: including men – which in some ways, says Holland, wasn't too difficult. "Because the men travel more, they're aware of communities in which women aren't mutilated, and they know that women don't have to be circumcised in order to get married."

In 2009, Lopus and Lodio got more than 60 traditional birth attendants from across Pokot together to spread the word about the dangers of FGM. "The idea they came up with," says Holland, "was to put together an alternative rite-of-passage ceremony that didn't involve cutting."

Back home, Holland fundraised for a week-long girls' camp that would end in a public ceremony to initiate 100 young girls into adulthood without FGM. "We were inundated with girls who wanted to attend – and many of them had had a tough time persuading their families that it was the better thing to do than FGM," she says. "In the end we had around 175, all aged between 14 and 20." The camp – which is the subject of a Guardian film – involved workshops and classes about the dangers of FGM, as well as dancing and fun events.

Holland's plan is to hold an annual rite of passage ceremony in Pokot, and fundraise for its costs. "Once the local community is on-side, and there's an alternative way of initiating the girls into adulthood, more and more becomes possible." It's a pretty impressive result for a project whose entire budget, at about £7,000 to date, would barely register in the world of international aid spending.

But Holland, now 61, is unwilling to stop. "Pokot is only one area of one country," she says. "There are many, many others where FGM still goes on. We want to replicate this work in other parts of Kenya, and in other parts of Africa. There's a lot more to be done."

The Economic Impact of FGM: How Female Genital Mutilation Hurts Women and Society

International Museum of Women: Economica
Ola Faisal Hassan

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the most controversial rites of passage in Sudan. Here, Sudanese student Ola Faisal Hassan gives background on FGM, shares interviews with women who have been affected by FGM, and explains how it relates to the economy.

What is FGM?

Practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) differ, but the practice often involves excision or a clitoridectomy. This is called Khafd (reduction) in Arabic and is more popularly known in the Sudan by as Tahara (purification). It is the removal of the clitoris, with partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia to varying degrees. In some instances, the two sides of the vulva are stitched together with catgut, sutures or thorns, thus obstructing the vaginal opening except for a very small part--just enough to allow the exit of urine and menstrual blood.

FGM was declared illegal in Sudan in 1941, but the practice has continued with little interruption. Successive national surveys between 1979 and 1983 recorded that 96% of women have undergone FGM. In 1991, this percentage dropped to 89%, and in 2009 the UNICEF World Report on Children reported a drop to around 81%. This gradual shift in public attitudes toward FGM is due in large part to efforts to educate the Sudanese about the risks of FGM led by nongovernmental organizations coordination with many other autonomous organizations and individuals.

Why is FGM Practiced in Sudan?

 The reasons people practice or encourage female genital mutilation stem from a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities. For decades, FGM has been a social convention, and families feel social pressure to conform to what others do and perpetuate the practice. Local leaders, including religious leaders, community leaders, and even some medical personnel, can perpetuate the practice as well. The argument that it is a cultural tradition is one of the most prevalent in terms of continuing FGM.

FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behavior, linking procedures to premarital virginity and marital fidelity. In many communities, FGM is believed to reduce a woman's libido, and thereby is further believed to help her resist "illicit" sexual acts. When a vaginal opening is covered or narrowed, the fear of pain of opening it, and the fear that this will be found out, is expected to further discourage premarital sexual intercourse among women with this type of FGM.

In Our Own Words

 I conducted several peer investigations among women in Sudan who were subjected to FGM, as well as uncircumcised women. Here are some excerpts from my conversations with them.


Mona is a middle aged housewife. She was circumcised as a young girl and is now the mother of an uncircumcised girl.

"I've made the vital decision not to subject my daughter to the horrific FGM I've gone through. I have suffered the physiological and psychological effects of the FGM both before my marriage and during the delivery of my daughter. My abnormal delivery incurred a lot of costs because I had to hire a specialist and then, during delivery, check into a private clinic to avoid any health consequences.

The worst result was that during delivery, because of the circumcision of my genitals the doctor had to pull my daughter very hard. My newborn daughter's right hand was almost paralyzed because of how hard she had to be pulled during deliver. This has resulted in extremely high financial expenses in the years after her birth in trying to cure her feeble right hand. We have tried physical therapy, and we even had to travel abroad to seek a cure for her hand, which represented an added cost for our family. Her handicap has even caused her a lot of psychological problems, especially during her primary study, which I'm afraid negatively affects her education and ultimately her future."


Nada is a new university graduate working as an accountant in a bank. She was recently married. She was (mostly) fortunate not to experience the horrific FGM process. She attributed not being circumcised to the fact that her parents are highly educated.

"Because the majority of females in our community were circumcised at the age of seven I have felt like a freak among them, and sometimes I was persecuted. However, when I became a teenager I was totally content and resolved with the ‘odd' situation I thought I was in. I had a normal menstruation, without any of the pain or infections that circumcised girls are susceptible to.

This normal feminine physiological life proved to be an asset for me when I started my career. My female colleagues at work had to take sick leave for several days each month during their menstruation. This reflected negatively on their attendance, and therefore they were not often promoted and in fact were sometimes demoted or lost their jobs altogether."

The Economic Impacts

 I believe that FGM is a burden on women, but also places an additional burden on a society's economy. Women who are FGM victims usually need more health care to deal with complications, which is a burden on the health service system run by the state. Women with FGM use a considerable share of the funds allocated for government hospitals in treating side effects caused by FGM.

Women and girls are also the backbone of the economy, especially when it comes to labor in the traditional agricultural industry that is so prevalent in rural societies in Sudan. Yet many women who have FGM experience longterm side effects, chronic infections, and pain that prevents them from participating in the economy or workforce. Therefore the side effects of the FGM and the health deterioration that follows in most case impedes economic growth in these areas. This is true for both rural settings, as well as for urban jobs as Nada described. When women are not able to participate fully in the workforce due to debilitating FGM-related health problems, it hurts the economy as a whole.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Female Genital Mutilation In Kenya: Local Girls Fight Back Against The Controversial Rite (VIDEO)

April 19, 2011
The Huffington Post

Two teenage girls in Kenya have attempted an unprecedented rebellion by refusing one of the most controversial rites of local womanhood: genital mutilation.

As the Guardian is reporting, the procedure has bewildered Westerners, who "find it incomprehensible that a mother would allow her daughter to be so brutally amputated with all the risks of infection, difficult childbirth and deprivation of sexual pleasure."

However, a new Guardian-produced documentary sheds light on the huge emotional conflict the two Kenyan women experience after challenging their families' authority by refusing to undergo the risky procedure. With the girls not considered eligible by prospective husbands until they have been "cut," the risk of family breakdown over the issue is clear.

Watch the Guardian's new clip on female genital mutilation below: [follow link]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Memories of my circumcision have haunted me to date

April 16, 2011
Daily Nation
Caroline Wafula

Nominated MP Sophia Abdi Noor tends to speak forcefully on most issues she is concerned about. But when she rose to contribute on the Bill to outlaw female circumcision in Parliament last week, her voice dropped as the House went silent.

It was perhaps the first time an MP was giving a deeply personal story which contributing to debate.

Female circumcision, said Sophia, was the cause of a harrowing experience during menstruation, her first sexual experience, and the eventual childbirth.

This, she said, is the driving force behind her passionate fight against the practice, which Parliament now seeks to outlaw with the Bill sponsored by Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi.

She was barely eight years old when together with seven of her agemates, she was handed over to a traditional circumciser who took them through the painful process of the cut. It has been many years since, and she has accomplished so much in life, but the incident remains fresh in her mind.

The old woman who took them through the process was going blind, she says, and three of the eight who underwent the operation died due to excessive bleeding. One of them was her very close friend.

Luckily for her, the bleeding was not too much and she had a saviour at hand. Her father, who was a policeman, took her to a hospital in Garissa using a police Land Rover.

Completely changed

 She was in hospital for a week and underwent a transfusion of four pints of blood. After she left the hospital, her life completely changed and her mother was also affected as she felt guilty for ‘blessing’ her daughter to undergo the rite.

The beginning of her complications was her first menstrual period, which was slow as the opening of her vagina was small, restricting the flow and her period lasted up to seven days. This would mean missing classes for the whole period and she would often lag behind in class.

Sophia does not remember her wedding day as the happy occasion it usually is for most people.

“It was a night I literally don’t want to remember,” she said. Her husband was equally affected due to the frustrations they encountered trying to consummate their union.

It took them three days before her husband could open up to friends about their frustrations of being unable to consummate their marriage.

“I was completely closed and we could not even share with our mothers who kept checking our bedsheets for blood. They got worried and asked the very young couples of our age to come and find out what the problem was,” she recalls.

More problems

She was later taken to hospital for an operation although the eventual consummation was still difficult because of the wound from the operation.

She would also have problems later as she gave birth to her first child, a baby boy. She had prolonged labour for four days and she could not undergo a Caesarean section because the child had already moved to exit position. The baby had to be removed by a vacuum, slightly injuring his head.

Ms Noor says it is this experience of her life that propelled her to launch anti-female circumcision campaigns.

“So many girls have died out of this, there is no documentation because this is done in secret, but this is killing and that is why I am talking about it,” she said.

She said it’s a very painful psychological experience. with some dying and that “there is no homestead that has no sad story arising from circumcision,” says Ms Noor.

She explains that as a child from a pastoralist community, circumcision was a compulsory rite.
“It was not a matter of consultation, it was even a taboo to talk about i. It was a very strong belief,” she says.

Everyone believed it was a religious obligation to undergo the rite, and the conviction was that a woman who was not circumcised was unclean and not fit for marriage.

It was also believed that God could not hear prayers of an uncut woman. But the MP does not blame her mother for the ordeal. She understands too well that like many other women in her community, she was brought up to believe it was a religious rite.

Going through the process meant cleansing daughters for marriage. “No one wanted their daughter to be a ‘haram’ or unfit for marriage,” she explains.

A part from the belief that circumcising the girl made her clean, it was also believed that the process protected her virginity.

“Once taken to her husband, he would know that she had been properly taken care of,” the MP explains. The third reason for the cut is that the community was scared of girls who were not circumcised, easily branding them prostitutes.

This is because it was believed not going through the cut left a woman sensitive sexually hence could easily turn to prostitution.

In one village

 Her campaign started when, while working on a Unicef Programme in Garissa where she was seconded by the Ministry of Education, she came across a circumcision rite in one of the villages she was visiting.

She immediately went dizzy after memories of her childhood experience flashed back. She sat down in silence but just a few minutes later, she and her colleagues heard a cry from the hut where the rite was being conducted.

The girl had fainted from the loss of blood but she passed away on the way to hospital. That incident marked the beginning of her activism against female circumcision. It was not easy owing to opposition from especially the religious leaders. But she was not going to give up.

“I knew deeply that was not my religion,” she says.

With this conviction, she approached some sheikhs and asked them to go through the Koran to find out whether indeed the Muslim religion required that women go through it.
It was with much relief that she came to learn from the sheikhs that it was nowhere in the holy books of Islam.

“I immediately mobilised meetings with the community and would later receive support from the international community,” she says.

She founded Womankind Kenya to spearhead the campaigns. She also started a centre for orphaned girls and those vulnerable to female circumcision, which also offered education.

The centre currently has 120 uncircumcised girls, having grown from an initial number of 18. It has girls aged between six and 23.

“People talk of diseases that come naturally and cause complications and kill, but this one is a bigger disease by our own making and people just don’t talk about it,” the MP says, noting that the practice goes on in several other communities in Kenya, secretly.

She is grateful to her colleagues for passing the Bill that will boost the war on female circumcision.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kenya: MPs Back Bill to Prohibit Female Genital Mutilation

April 13, 2011
Nairobi Star-
Francis Mureithi

MPs yesterday commended debate on a Bill that seeks to punish those found practicing Female Genital Mutilation. The motion which was moved by Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi received the backing of all legislators who stood to contribute saying it was time the country effected laws to curb FGM.

Kapondi told the House that FGM was interfering with women sexuality. He said the act has been a major factor undermining development noting that it had inhibited the education of the girl child in many parts of the country.

MPs Ekwe Ethuro (Turkana Central), John Mututho (Naivasha), Aden Duale (Dujis) said Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill 2010 will go along way in protecting the girl child. "FGM affects the child birth for women, FGM affects infertility and cause trauma," said Duale while supporting the motion.

The Bill provides that any one found practicing FGM and convicted will be sent to jail for seven years or fined Sh500,000. Anyone who causes death in the process of carrying out FGM will be liable to life imprisonment.

Those convicted of aiding, abetting or carrying out FGM will be liable to imprisonment for a term between three and seven years or a fine of between Sh100,000 and Sh500,000.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kenya: FGM Clubs in Schools to Fight the Cut

April 11, 2011
Nairobi Star-
Hussein Salesa

The government has been urged to establish anti-Female Genital Mutilation clubs in schools to combat the outdated cultural practices in pastoral communities in Northern Kenya.

Merti Intergrated Development (MID) coordinator Abdulah Shande said the clubs will help reduce cases of discrimination against those non-practising in primary and secondary schools in the region.

He said the clubs will discourage young girls from accepting to go through the rites as the case where almost 90 per cent of students go through the practice during the December holidays when schools were closed. MID is sponsoring more than 80 girls from poor families to secondary education in Isiolo and Garba-Tula districts.

Shande said his organisation is advocating to come up with inter-sectoral collaboration programmes aimed at eliminating FGM in the society.

He said the fight against the practice could only be won if the government, NGOs and private sectors jointly work out modalities to come up with clubs that advocate against it.

The coordinator noted that there was need to undertake a comprehensive research on FGM among the practicing communities in Kenya adding that the practice was not cultural neither religious.

Rural village in Ethiopia vows to stop female genital mutilation

April 12, 2011
International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Carla Mackenzie

A rural village in southern Ethiopia, Africa, has vowed to try and end the practice of female genital mutilation.

While it is a tradition in the village of Senbata Lencho, people are beginning to realise the long-term impact female genital mutilation can have, reports Radio Netherlands Worldwide in Africa.

Local woman Radia Ledamo told the news provider: "We, the mothers, have taught our children these hurtful habits."

"It is now our duty to prevent them from doing it and inform them of its consequences," she added.

Berhanu Tufa, director of the African Development Aid Association, said the key to eradicating female genital mutilation was getting religious leaders involved.

He said the leaders are "more influential" than any other method. When the association got them on board and they told people that female circumcision is not stated in any religious text, people were more willing to consider halting the practice.

Recently, the Kenyan parliament said it was set to debate a proposed Bill outlawing female genital mutilation in the African country.