03 April 2012 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & women's rights

NPWJ press release

NPWJ welcomes the adoption of a legislation banning FGM in Ireland
NPWJ, 28 Mar 2012

Today the Irish Senate approved the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill, outlawing the practice in Ireland as well as allowing the prosecution of any resident in the country who has committed this criminal offence abroad.
Prior to this, legislation on FGM was included in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, which was however considered as insufficient to protect the 11,500 women and girls residing in Ireland from communities that widely practice FGM. Over 3,000 women living in Ireland are estimated to have undergone FGM. The new law adds important elements to this pre existing Act, including a definition of FGM; clarifications on criminal responsibility and penalties; protection of victims; and the removal of the argument of consent or culture to be pleaded as a defense in a case of FGM.
Statement by Alvilda Jablonko, Coordinator of the FGM Program of No Peace Without Justice:
“No Peace Without Justice and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) are heartened that Ireland now has, for the first time, a self-standing law that provides for criminalising the practice, prosecution of offenders and protection of victims.Significantly, the new Bill, which explicitly refers to FGM as a human rights violation and a form of gender-based violence, allows to pursue, prosecute and punish any resident who has committed the crime of FGM, even if the offence is committed outside Ireland.
“We urge the Irish Government and local authorities to promptly enact its provisions and launch a wide-scale awareness and education campaign to sensitize the communities in the areas affected that female circumcision is not only degrading, but also criminal and use its provisions to stamp out the practice once and for all.

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Maldivian Women Fight for Rights
By Feizal Samath, 03 Apr 2012

Maldivian women, long used to taking a backseat in the Muslim-dominated Indian Ocean country, say they are determined to ensure that they are not deprived of their rights under the new regime of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

Television footage of women battling police, soon after the Feb. 7 resignation of president Mohammed Nasheed, showed the new assertiveness of Maldivian women, even while wearing the 'hijab' or head-cover traditionally worn by Muslim women. Nasheed later claimed it was a coup against his elected government.

"Yes, life is changing in the Maldives with women asserting their rights more aggressively than before," Mauroof Zakir, a young trade union activist, told IPS over telephone. "This is a new and exciting development." Nasheed, a former journalist educated in Britain, led the MDP during a massive campaign for democracy in the Maldives before winning the elections held in November 2008 and defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 74, who had ruled the country with an iron fist for 30 years.

(…) Nasheed, while in power, had openly advocated a moderate brand of Islam and spoken up against such practices as female genital mutilation, child marriage and the public flogging of women for adultery.

Nasheed had also backed a controversial domestic violence bill aimed at providing female victims emergency protection and easing a woman's ability to resort to divorce. The bill has remained in the Majlis or parliament for over a year.

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Liberia: Government Finding a Way to End FGM
By Travis Lupick, 02 Apr 2012

There were three people. One person was holding me down; one person was holding my hand; and the other person was doing the job. They lay me down, and..." Fatu said of the female genital mutilation she underwent as an eight- year-old in Liberia.
According to the World Health Organization, Fatu endured what is classified as a type II female circumcision (on a scale of one to three), where her clitoris and labia minora were cut away.
Now 23 and a student at the University of Liberia, Fatu's circumcision was part of her initiation into the secretive Sande Society, a pseudo-religious association to which most Liberian women - depending on which tribe and part of the country they are from - are members.

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Anti female genital mutilation sessions for men in Bristol
BBC News, 30 Mar 2012

Sessions to encourage men to help stop female genital mutilation (FGM) will be held in Bristol, it is hoped. Campaign group Daughters of Eve has started hosting workshops for men in London after gaining funding from the Staples Trust in December.
Bristol-based campaigner Nimco Ali, co-founder of the group, said she hoped to bring the scheme to Bristol.

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Liberia Journalist in Hiding After Writing Genital Mutilation Expose
Jakarta Globe, 28 Mar 2012

A Liberian journalist says she has been forced into hiding after lifting the lid on initiation rituals, including genital mutilation, by a secretive women’s society.

Mae Azango, a reporter with Liberian daily Front Page Africa, published a March 8 story in which a woman recounted how as a child she was held down and mutilated by members of the Sande Society.

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Islamist Parliamentarian Objects to Egypt's Ban on FGM
By Jessica Gray, 28 Mar 2012

Egypt's Azza El Garf, a longstanding female representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, strays from women's rights activists and opposes illegalization of genital cutting. She also carves a separate path on issues such as divorce and family.
Azza El Garf, a prominent figure in the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, offers a profile in political contradiction.
She shares her party's family-first view of a woman's place, but at the same time plays a pioneering role in the minuscule minority -- just 1 percent -- of women serving in the country's post-revolution houses of parliament.

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Kenya:Men force wives to undergo FGM
By Kevin Tunoi, 28 Mar 2012

Married women who escaped female genital mutilation (FGM) are being threatened to undergo the cut, a report has stated. The report also revealed change of season for practicing FGM from December to August to avoid media spotlight and scrutiny from Government agencies.

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