04 Feb 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM and Women's Rights


'No girl is safe': The mothers ironing their daughters' breasts
By AlJazeera, 03 Feb 2020

Ogoja, Nigeria - For most children, their birthday is a time of celebration. But that was not the case for Mirabel when she turned 10. For Mirabel, a Cameroonian refugee living in Nigeria, turning 10 marked the start of gruelling daily torture - having her breasts ironed with hot stones by her mother. Every morning, a neighbour from the refugee community where she lives in Ogoja, in Nigeria's southeastern Cross River State, holds her legs firmly in place while her mother takes a burning hot pestle straight from the fire and presses it against her daughter's chest in an attempt to flatten her breasts. The procedure can be repeated for months, or even years, and is intended to either stop young girls developing breasts or to flatten them once they have.

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'It’s child abuse': FGM lawyer who helped prosecute over 100 people in France welcomes first-ever Irish prosecution
By, Thejournal.ie, 02 Feb 2020

A humanrights lawyer who helped prosecute more than 100 people in female genital mutilation (FGM) cases in France has praised the sentence handed down earlier this week in Ireland’s first-ever FGM prosecution. On Monday the parents of a young girl who is deemed to have undergone FGM were sentenced by Judge Elma Sheahan after being found guilty in November following a trial. The girl’s father was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for the FGM charge, and three years for the neglect charge. The sentences will run concurrently. The girl’s mother was sentenced to four years and nine months years in prison for the FGM charge, and two years and nine months for the neglect charge. The sentences will also run concurrently. The maximum sentence for an FGM conviction in Ireland is 14 years, while the neglect conviction has a maximum sentence of seven years. In an exclusive interview with TheJournal.ie, Linda Weil-Curiel, who has helped prosecute over 100 people in about 40 FGM cases in France since the 1980s, welcomed the sentences given by Judge Sheahan.

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Colombia: Uphold Women’s Rights in Abortion Case
By Human Rights Watch , 31 Jan 2020

(Washington, DC) – Colombia’s Constitutional Court should uphold women’s rights in deciding a case regarding access to abortion, Human Rights Watch today. Human Rights Watch submitted an amicus brief in the case to the court on January 30, 2020. In 2006, the Constitutional Court issued a landmark ruling that decriminalized abortion when the life or health of the pregnant woman is at risk, when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and when the fetus has a serious condition incompatible with life outside the womb. But today, access to legal abortion still faces many barriers. The case currently pending before the court seeks to prohibit abortion altogether. “Criminalizing abortion has had devastating effects for women’s lives across the Americas, including in Colombia,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "Reversing the protections provided more than a decade ago would threaten Colombian women’s health and indeed their very lives."

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Female genital mutilation: Parents arrested after death of girl in Egypt
By BBC News, 31 Jan 2020

Police in Egypt have arrested the parents and aunt of a 14-year-old girl who died while undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM). The doctor who allegedly performed the procedure in the province of Asyut was also held. All four were detained after the victim's uncle alerted the authorities, officials told the BBC. FGM was banned in Egypt in 2008 but the country still has one of the highest rates of the practice in the world. According to the UN children's agency, Unicef, 87% of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years in Egypt have undergone FGM, with 50% of Egyptians believing it "is a religious requirement". In the latest case, Nada Abdul Maksoud suffered complications after the surgery at a private clinic in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Asyut, the Shorouk News website reported. The girl's death caused an outcry from rights groups in Egypt. The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood and the National Council for Women urged authorities to prosecute those responsible, the state-run website Akhbar el-Yom said. Egypt criminalised FGM in 2008 and increased penalties for those carrying out the procedures in 2016 following the death of a teenage girl.

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India backs looser abortion laws in boost for women
By Reuters, 29 Jan 2020

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In a boost to female reproductive rights, India’s cabinet on Wednesday backed giving women more time to seek an abortion in a bill aimed at helping the young, disadvantaged and the raped. The government said the cabinet had approved extending the abortion deadline to 24 weeks from 20, with the measure set to go before a new session of parliament that opens on Friday. “This will help particularly adolescent girls, disabled girls, rape victims and others who face these problems,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told a news conference. Abortions are conditional in India. They are offered only after rape - about 90 cases are logged each day - if there is serious danger to a mother, substantial risk of disability to a child or if contraceptive fails.

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