Archive for August, 2013

Female Genital Mutilation Campaign In Sudan Slammed For ‘Not Getting Message Across’

In 2007 U.N. organizations, civil society groups and other institutions working to stop female genital mutilation got together and brainstormed a campaign to end the practice in Sudan.

The result was Saleema, a word that translates to complete, to signify that a girl should remain the way she was born. The campaign has been ramping up recently in its fight against FGM, as the practice is called (it’s also referred to as female genital cutting), with extensive media outreach, opening a new dialogue about this once-taboo issue in Sudan. Still, activists here criticized the campaign as being presented in such a way as to appease conservatives and to avoid clashes. “The name, Saleema, is a vague name in itself in my opinion and this reflects that the campaign is trying to avoid clashes with the extremists who do not want to see FGM eradicated,” said Sana Mekkawi, who works at Salmmah Women’s Resource Center in Khartoum. The billboards covering the streets of Khartoum, for example, show celebrities and respected individuals and have the slogan “She is born Saleema, let her grow Saleema,” but they do not mention FGM.

female genital mutilation sudan

“The concept is straightforward, saying no to FGM, but the slogan ‘Let every girl born Saleema grow Saleema’ does not get this message across,” Samah Osman told Women’s eNews, adding that the campaign should have referred to FGM in the advertisement. Osman, a recent chemical engineering graduate, is one of many youth who took to Twitter to express their opinions on the campaign as part of a heated day-long discussion that took place on the social media outlet on July 23, during the holy month of Ramadan, when the television advertisements of the campaign are at their peak.


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Female genital mutilation ‘being done in UK’

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has long been associated with communities in Africa such as Mali, Somalia and Sudan and some parts of the Middle East.

But authorities in the UK say practitioners are being brought to Britain as part of Europe-wide cutting tours, largely driven by families who can no longer afford to send their daughters overseas for the procedure. The UK lags behind its European neighbours in that so far, there has not been a single prosecution. Campaigners say this has led to Britain’s reputation as a safer place to do business by cutters.


Child Marriages On The Rise

A UNICEF commissioned report says there is an increase in child marriages in Sri Lanka.

UNICEF commissioned a qualitative inquiry to better understand why children were marrying young and what could be done about it. The inquiry was based on a 2009 desk review, which suggested that early marriage and statutory rape might be on the increase in Sri Lanka, particularly in less developed districts. This findings concerned UNICEF, not only because early marriage limits opportunities for girls to complete their education, but also because it is often associated with adverse health outcomes, including risks to both mother and child during pregnancy and childbirth, under-nutrition and late physical and cognitive development amongst infants.

Child brides are also at a higher risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka Reza Hossaini said.

The qualitative inquiry, based on an analysis of 71 case studies, reveals that child marriages (in the selected districts) are most often, a product of teenage sexuality, and do not appear to be linked to customary or forced marriages, or to families marrying off their daughters at an early age to reduce their economic burden. For instance, of the 71 girls interviewed, 21 girls (30%) were pregnant before they turned 18.


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RAPAR plans fundraiser to save 16-year-old from FGM

A human rights organisation based in the UK has scheduled a fundraising event in support of a campaign that aims to protect a 16-year-old from deportation – a relocation that would put her at risk of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research (RAPAR) hopes that the event, which takes place on Sunday (August 18th), will highlight the dangers of Olayinka Olatunde not being allowed to remain in the UK.
The teenager, her mother and two brothers have lived in Rochdale, Greater Manchester since fleeing Nigeria in 2010. However, a recent asylum claim was refused.
They left for the UK after Olayinka’s sister died at the age of eight, having succumbed to complications that arose after she forcibly underwent FGM. A year beforehand, Olayinka had been beaten by male family members after resisting their efforts to have her undergo the practice. She was hospitalised with permanent damage to her hands.

Nigerian police failed to act, telling the family that they respected “traditional and family acts”, and RAPAR fears that Olayinka will suffer FGM if she is made to return to her native country.


Swedish women don headscarves after assault on Muslim

Swedish women have been posting photos of themselves in traditional Muslim headscarves in solidarity with a woman attacked apparently for wearing a veil.

Among the protesters from various faiths were politicians and TV hosts. The “hijab outcry” campaigners urged the government to “ensure that Swedish Muslim women are guaranteed the right to… religious freedom”. The victim was taken to hospital after the attacker tore off her hijab and hit her head against a car on Saturday. The assailant also shouted racist insults at the woman – who was pregnant – during the attack on Saturday in a Stockholm suburb, the victim’s friends told Sweden’s media.


Woman wears headscarf. File photo

Police are now investigating the incident.

‘March of fascism’

Using the hashtag #hijabuppropet (hijab outcry) a number of women across Sweden published pictures of themselves on Twitter and other social media websites on Monday.  Among the protesters were lawmakers Asa Romson and Veronica Palm, and also TV host Gina Dirawi.


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Female genital mutilation ‘being done in UK’

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has long been associated with communities in Africa such as Mali, Somalia and Sudan and some parts of the Middle East.But authorities in the UK say practitioners are being brought to Britain as part of Europe-wide cutting tours, largely driven by families who can no longer afford to send their daughters overseas for the procedure.

The UK lags behind its European neighbours in that so far, there has not been a single prosecution. Campaigners say this has led to Britain’s reputation as a safer place to do business by cutters.



Tanzania: NGO Steps Up Fight Against FGM, Early Marriages

Mara — CHILDREN’S Dignity Forum (CDF) is implementing an ambitious project aimed at saving schoolgirls from the menace of female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriages and HIV/AIDS in Mara Region. The project dubbed Strengthen Girls Network and Clubs in Response to Child Marriage, FGM and HIV Prevention Strategies is targeting public schools in Tarime, Rorya, Musoma rural and Musoma municipality.

Ms Fransisca Silayo, the project coordinator, made the revelation during a special function organized by the NGO to provide anti- FGM, early marriages and HIV/AIDS education to female pupils of Nyasho B Primary School in Musoma Municipality late last week. The schoolgirls hailed CDF for introducing the project and wanted the society to value them as it is the case with boys.


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U.N. pressures Indonesia to stop health workers performing FGM

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Indonesia should stop allowing doctors, midwives and other health workers to carry out female genital mutilation (FGM) on children and babies as young as six months, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (OHCHR) has said. The committee also urged the country to pass legislation banning any form of FGM and to put in place penalties that reflect the “gravity of this offence”, which campaigners say is a serious human rights violation. OHCHR made its comments on Friday in observations on the state of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The “medicalisation” of FGM – a term used for when the practice is performed by health practitioners – has emerged as a trend in several countries and campaigners say it is setting back global efforts to eradicate the ancient ritual. It is also seen as one of the biggest risk factors as it is often seen as legitimising FGM.


But Indonesia says it is better medically trained people carry out the procedure to avoid parents resorting to traditional circumcisers who might endanger their daughters’ health. “Medicalised FGM is on the rise,” Efua Dorkenoo, advocacy director of Equality Now’s FGM programme told Thomson Reuters Foundation. This is not just the case in Indonesia, but also in Kenya, Nigeria and in countries where bodies representing health professionals fail to take strong action against it, she added.

In Indonesia’s case, medicalised FGM was allowed following a fatwa – a ruling by a religious authority – and this came after a ban on FGM was reversed on the grounds it had led to an increase in the practice by non-medical practitioners. Following the fatwa, the ministry of health issued a regulation in 2010 permitting medicalised FGM, which goes against a number of international resolutions and treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), of which Indonesia is a signatory, according to Equality Now. “We tried all kinds of actions – not just [through] the government but … through international medical associations to bring pressure in terms of violations of various treaties that they have ratified on this [the medicalisation of FGM] – and they’ve not been successful,” Dorkenoo said.


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Spoon in underwear saving youths from forced marriage

LONDON, England — As Britain puts airport staff on alert to spot potential victims of forced marriage, one campaigning group says the trick of putting a spoon in their underwear has saved some youngsters from a forced union in their South Asian ancestral homelands. The concealed spoon sets off the metal detector at the airport in Britain and the teenagers can be taken away from their parents to be searched — a last chance to escape a largely hidden practice wrecking the lives of unknown thousands of British youths.

The British school summer holidays, now well under way, mark a peak in reports of young people — typically girls aged 15 and 16 — being taken abroad on “holiday”, for a marriage without consent, the government says. The bleep at airport security may be the last chance they get to escape a marriage to someone they have never met in a country they have never seen. The spoon trick is the brainchild of the Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse. Based in Derby, central England, it fields 6,500 calls per year from around Britain but has almost reached that point so far in 2013 as awareness of the issue grows. When petrified youngsters ring, “if they don’t know exactly when it may happen or if it’s going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,” said Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana’s operations manager.


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Human rights student reporter of the year on life after forced marriage

The winning entry in Amnesty International UK’s annual competition, in conjunction with the Observer and the NUS, is by Lauren Wilks of the University of Edinburgh


A still from a film made with actors by the Forced Marriage Unit.

Parents, family, friends – I left everyone because he was after me and my daughter,” says Tehmina, explaining how she came to leave Pakistanin 2002 and claim asylum in the UK. “It was an arranged marriage, but when I married him he turned out to be another person. I was beaten and abused for 10 months.” After escaping, Tehmina was rejected by almost everyone in her family. While her father was sympathetic, he told her that she and her daughter no longer had a life in Pakistan. She received death threats from her brothers and the police ignored her cry for help, saying it was “her own matter”. “The situation in Pakistan is very difficult,” she says. “It’s impossible to live as a single woman or single mother … honour killings are everywhere.”

Within the UK, confronting the issue of forced marriage is not new. Campaigners have long called for greater attention to the issue; and in recent years policymakers have pushed aside claims of cultural difference and introduced a range of measures – aimed at both the UK and overseas – to work towards ending the practice. However, tougher laws and awareness campaigns, while important, fail to address the needs of those living in, or trying to escape from, a forced marriage. For women such as Tehmina, running away is not an end to the trauma. “It’s an uphill struggle; very often as bad as the forced marriage itself,” says Angela Voulgari of Saheliya, an Edinburgh-based organisation that supports black and minority ethnic women. Voulgari wants to see more intensive support to protect those trapped in and escaping from forced marriages. She says that fleeing a marriage can mark the beginning of another, more frightening chapter.


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