15 June 2021 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & women's rights

Articles

First, do no harm? Medicine’s unbelievable, sometimes horrific treatment of women
The Irish Times, 15 Jun 2021

Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, believed that women were controlled by their uteruses. The father of modern gynaecology, James Marion Sims, experimented in the mid-1800s on enslaved black women without anesthesia, convinced that they felt less pain than white women. (Until its removal in 2018, his statue stood in New York City’s Central Park for more than a century.) Doctors claimed that women’s suffrage would cause injury to women’s fragile bodies and diminished minds. Such examples cast an abhorrent pall over “first, do no harm”.

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‘I’m sacrificing myself’: agony of Kabul’s secret sex workers
The Guardian, 14 Jun 2021

In Afghanistan, sex work is illegal. But as war – and the widespread poverty that comes with it – lingers, the number of women and men who see the trade as their last option has been steadily rising. Although the penal code does not specify the punishment for sex work, they risk a prison sentence if they get caught. “Poverty and illiteracy are the main drivers for prostitution,” says a spokesperson at the women’s affairs ministry.

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Signs of Hope in Fight Against Child Marriage
Human Rights Watch, 14 Jun 2021

Last week, a breakthrough in the global fight to end child marriage came when the United Kingdom government pledged to raise the minimum age of marriage in England and Wales to 18, without exception. Just days before, Rhode Island became the fifth US state to ban child marriage. These are important steps, but more work lies ahead. The UK has put itself forward as a leader on ending child marriage, hosting the 2014 “Girl Summit” on this topic.

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Liberia: Traditional Practitioners Leave FGM for Farming in Liberia
AllAfrica, 14 Jun 2021

One in two girls and women in Liberia has undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), a harmful practice that involves the removal or injury of external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Often performed without a girl's consent, the practice can have devastating health impacts including haemorrhaging, infection, chronic pain, childbirth complications and in severe cases, death. But in the northeastern district of Nimba County, traditional practitioners of FGM are beginning to leave the trade in favour of other ventures such as climate-smart agriculture and business management.

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Central American women are fleeing domestic violence amid a pandemic. Few find refuge in U.S.
The Washington Post, 13 Jun 2021

“You will never, ever be happy,” her ex-boyfriend told her on the phone in December. “And when I find you, I will disappear you and your entire family.” María de Jesús packed her bags and fled Guatemala City with her 11-year-old son on a cold night weeks later. She paid a smuggler and trekked north to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she hoped the Biden administration, promising a more humanitarian approach toward immigrants, would welcome a domestic violence survivor like herself into the country.

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Educating girls is critical to the global Covid recovery plan
The Guardian, 11 Jun 2021

The pandemic has deepened the long-running crisis in global education. Many children around the world missed the majority of the last academic year. At the height of school closures, 1.6 billion children and young people were out of education. Girls have been among the hardest hit. When they are not enrolled in school they are more likely to be forced into child marriage, subjected to female genital mutilation and exposed to gender-based violence.

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Somalia's Puntland moves to ban female genital mutilation
Reuters, 11 Jun 2021

Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region has taken a first step towards banning female genital mutilation (FGM) in a country where almost all women and girls are forced to undergo the internationally condemned practice. Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni and his cabinet this week approved a bill to be submitted to parliament that would criminalise the ancient ritual, a measure anti-FGM campaigners said would boost their efforts to end the practice.

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Papua New Guinea: Violence Against Women Accused of Sorcery
Human Rights Watch, 10 Jun 2021

The Papua New Guinea government should protect women accused of practicing “sorcery” from violence and hold the attackers to account, Human Rights Watch said today. At least five women have been attacked since March 2021, one of whom was killed. “The Papua New Guinea government should urgently investigate all cases of violence following sorcery accusations, and prosecute those responsible,” said Stephanie McLennan, senior manager of Asia initiatives.

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End all legal barriers to abortion, say leading European politicians
The Guardian, 09 Jun 2021

Government ministers from five European countries, including Belgium’s prime minister, Alexander de Croo, are among 29 politicians, healthcare and women’s rights activists who have signed an open letter calling for the removal of all legal barriers to abortion. The letter, signed by gender and equality ministers from France, Canada and Norway, and international development ministers from Sweden and the Netherlands, states that women’s right to safe, legal abortion is being eroded by misinformation and attacks on services.

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India’s marginalised girls fighting child marriage
Al Jazeera, 09 Jun 2021

“I want to study at least up to 12th standard (grade)” was Saira Bano’s heartfelt cry when her parents started looking for a groom for her in October 2020. It had been a tough year for her parents in their remote northwestern Indian village. Since a nationwide lockdown to check coronavirus was imposed in March 2020, Saira’s father has not been able to find much work.

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