04 Apr 2017 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & women's right

Articles

Jeremy Hunt 'asked FGM survivor if she could still have orgasms'
By The Independent, 28 Apr 2017

Jeremy Hunt has been accused of asking a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) campaigner whether “girls like you” can still have an orgasm. Nimco Ali claimed the Health Secretary found her via a Google search and that he had no idea about FGM at the time. The former civil servant, who is the director of the Daughters of Eve non-profit organisation, told  the News Roast podcast that the pair met at his Whitehall office four years ago. "This man is the Secretary of State for Health but he has no idea about FGM and I don’t think he even reads his briefings,” said Ms Ali, recalling her thoughts at the time. She said he asked: "What I really want to know Nimco, is, can girls like you have an orgasm?" She said: It was his first direct question. My reply was: ‘Well, it depends how good you are Jeremy. Because 80 per cent of the clitoris is actually internal, but let’s move’.” News Roast presenters Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein called his question “disrespectful” and “crude”. But Ms Ali replied: “I think he is privileged enough to ask those questions.” Ms Ali went on to praise the former under secretary for public health, Jane Ellison, for her campaigning on FGM. An FGM survivors’ ability to have an orgasm depends on the type of FGM and cutting they have suffered. Mr Hunt’s health department has since started publishing annual statistics for FGM and the latest data revealed nearly 5,500 new cases in 2016.

Read More

Donald Trump Defunds Global Maternal Health Organization
By The Huffington Post, 03 Apr 2017

Days after Melania Trump presented courage awards to 13 women working for gender equity around the globe, President Donald Trump’s administration halted all U.S. grants to the United Nations Population Fund, an international humanitarian aid organization that provides reproductive health care and works to end child marriage and female genital cutting in more than 150 countries. The State Department invoked the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which he said will ensure that “U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” President George W. Bush used the same policy to defund the UNFPA from 2002 to 2008, arguing that the organization’s presence in China constituted participation in the country’s “one child” coercive family planning policy. The UNFPA does not provide or promote abortions. The organization works in China to make reproductive health program voluntary and rights-based and has advocated against the country’s one-child policy. The Trump administration did not explain exactly how it determined that the UNFPA violated any U.S. law.  “The UNFPA no longer provides any financial support to the Chinese government to support its family planning program. Not a dollar,” said Peter Yeo, vice president of public policy at the United Nations Foundation. “So I’m not quite frankly sure how you make this Kemp-Kasten determination with a straight face.” Trump’s move will pull $76 million from the UNFPA ― about 7 percent of its budget. In 2016, the funding provided access to contraceptives to 800,000 people around the world and prevented an estimated 100,000 unsafe abortions and 10,000 maternal deaths, according to the organization. At the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, for instance, UNFPA-supported health providers have managed to deliver more than 7,000 babies without a single maternal death. 

Read More

Why is the Arab feminist movement so racist?
By Middle East Monitor, 01 Apr 2017

A self-proclaimed “humanitarian” and women’s rights activist from Jordan was caught recently taunting domestic workers at a recruitment agency on Snapchat. Ola Al-Fares, an award-winning journalist, lined up six workers for a photo, only to laugh at them in front of her followers. She then ruthlessly mocked the way that they dressed, saying that she has to work on their “fashion sense”, and did so with thousands watching. Another case of racism against workers earlier this week also went viral. A woman in Kuwait was filming a domestic worker as she was hanging onto the railing of a balcony and refused to help her just before she fell from the seventh floor of an apartment block. Thousands of people reacted furiously in defence of the victims in both cases. While many called for justice for the victims, there were few calls for an end to the structurally racist systems in place in such countries which ensure that foreign workers have to endure such situations. It is undeniable that, more often than not, the Arab feminist movement shows an immense lack of intersectionality. In a similar way to which “White feminism” is criticised by a range of postcolonial feminist scholars for addressing women’s issues from a Eurocentric perspective, feminism in the Arab world places disproportionate emphasis on Arab women. As a result, the rights of working class non-Arab women in the Arab world are often overlooked when, in fact, they are crucial to the Arab women’s liberation project.

Read More

Somaliland: 'I convinced my sister not to do type III FGM on her daughter'
By The Guardian, 29 Mar 2017

In Somaliland, Unicef estimates that about 98% of girls and women between 15 and 49 are subjected to some form of female genital mutilation – almost a despairing figure. This is largely an issue in the hands of women, and not something openly discussed. Yet Unicef believes it is vital that men are part of any solution. Young men in the region who are against the practice are forming a growing movement for change, but the drought crisis is dominating people’s lives right now. Khadar, 23 “The first thing I did as a campaigner is convince my sister not to do Type III FGMon her daughter. I told her about the side effects and I also made her listen to Islamic scholars that are against the practice to show her that FGM is not religious. After a lot of negotiation, she agreed and didn’t do it. I am proud of that.” Khadar was trained in FGM awareness by the indigenous-Somali organisation Candlelight. “Men, in general do not speak about FGM. It remains a taboo,” he says. “Men here are the heads of the household and this means they can play an important role in ending FGM, if they chose to.” While studying at New Generation University College in Hargeisa, Khadar was exposed to the realities and consequences of FGM on women’s health. “Once I realised the psychological and physical trauma, I was against it.” He became an anti-FGM ambassador at his university and felt more confident in challenging some of his peers. “When I tell others all the facts, especially young people, they are easily convinced. Lack of knowledge is the reason FGM is still practiced in Somaliland. I am confident that FGM can be eradicated in one generation.”

Read More