Sub-Regional Conference on Female Genital Mutilation, "Towards a political and religious consensus against FGM" - Media Coverage

AFP - Djibouti, 2-3 February 2005

01 février 2005

    Representatives from four African nations and Yemen are to meet here this week for a conference to promote the war against female circumcision at which Djibouti is expected to sign an accord calling for an end to the practice, the UN children's agency said. Some 300 participants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Islamic scholars Egypt's Al-Azhar University are expected to attend the two-day meeting that begins on Wednesday, UNICEF said.
    The tiny Horn of Africa country's health ministry is jointly organizing the regional conference during which Djibouti is to sign the African Union's 2003 Maputo Protocol on the rights of African women, UNICEF said in a statement. Among other things, the accord commits signatories to hasten efforts to stamp out female genital mutilation. Despite a 1995 law banning the practice in Djibouti, about 98 percent of its women and girls have undergone the extreme form of female circumcision, according to official figures. As in most Islamic nations in the Horn of Africa, excision in Djibouti involves slicing whole or part of external female genitalia, then stitching the wound, leaving a tiny opening for passage of urine or menstrual flow.

04 février 2005

    A conference of about 300 experts mainly from Horn of Africa nations has issued a "Djibouti Declaration" against the practice of female circumcision, considered "a violation of human rights". Such female genital mutilation, said the statement published after a conference in Dibouti on Wednesday and Thursday, must be abandoned as "a violation of human rights, more especially those of women and girls, and an insult to their dignity."
    The declaration added that the traditional practice in use in many African countries, often illegally, has no religious basis. It was approved by delegates from Dibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Circumcision, which is already a health risk because many practitioners lack appropriate medical equipment, can range from the stitching up of young girls' vaginas to the excision of the clitoris. The UN World Health Organisation estimates that between 120 and 130 million women, mainly in Africa, have suffered such mutilation. "No religious basis in the Koran -- as morever in other religious revealed scriptures (Christianity and Judaism) justifies the perpetuation" of circumcision, said the delegates, who also expressed opposition to bids to make the practice medically safer as opposed to enforcement of laws banning it.
    "Implementing legislation must be an integral part of a multi-disciplinary approach," the Dibouti Declaration said. Djibouti, a small country at the meeting point of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, on Thursday became the sixth country to ratify a Maputo Protocol adopted by African Union heads of state in July 2003, according to the non-governmental organisation "No Peace Without Justice". In 2002, Djibouti's health ministry released a survey concluding that 98 percent of women in the country had been excised despite the outlawing of the practice by the Penal Code in 1995.