17 Mar 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM and Women's Rights


True numbers of FGM victims could be far higher as countries fail to record cases
The Guardian, 17 Mar 2020

The number of women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) could be much higher than previously estimated, as a new report shows the practice is carried out in more than 90 countries around the world. The UN estimates that 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM. But this figure is drawn from only 31 countries – 27 in Africa – where national data has been collected. After pulling together data from indirect estimates, smaller surveys, academic studies and from anecdotal evidence, researchers from Equality Now, the End FGM European Network and the US End FGM/C Network found that hundreds of thousands of cases have been documented across 92 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America and Latin America.

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Sierra Leone: 'Global Response to FGM Prevalence Underestimated'
AllAfrica, 16 Mar 2020

A new report published by Equality Now- an international human rights organization - on the theme "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Call for a Global Response", notes that global response to the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has substantially been underestimated. The rights-based organization in partnership with End FGM European Network and End FGM/C U.S. Network took stock of 92 countries where there is evidence of women and girls living with or at risk of undergoing FGM. The report says 51 countries, excluding Sierra Leone and six other countries have laws against FGM. "Countries with specific anti-FGM laws include Kenya, Benin, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, and Uganda. However, there are countries that do not specifically address FGM within their laws. These include: Indonesia, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, The Maldives, and Yemen," the report states.

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FGM survivors recount horror of practice: 'I was sobbing, it was brutal'
The Independent, 15 Mar 2020

 “I was taken on the pretext that I was going for a fun outing,” says Masooma Ranvali. “Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the most horrible moments of my life. It was done very surreptitiously.” Ranvali, who was seven years old at the time, says her grandmother took her to a dark, dingy building in India where she was immediately ordered to lie down on the floor by an elderly lady. Her warnings come as Equality Now, a non-government organisation which promotes the rights of women and girls, found official data on the global prevalence of FGM released by Unicef, which claims it affects at least 200 million women, “woefully” underestimates both the nature and scale of the issue.

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Witchcraft beliefs blamed for halting drive to end FGM in Guinea
Reuters, 11 Mar 2020

 Belief in witchcraft is hampering efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) in Guinea where almost all girls are cut, campaigners said on Tuesday. Aminata Bah, who underwent FGM at the age of five, said many people in the West African country believed traditional circumcisers had supernatural powers and girls feared being cursed if they spoke about what had happened to them. With 97% of women cut, Guinea is estimated to have the second highest prevalence of FGM globally after Somalia. Although most people are Muslim, belief in witchcraft is widespread, Bah told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at an event hosted by the National FGM Centre.

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'There has been a regression on women's rights' - Femen leader Shevchenko
Euronews, 11 Mar 2020

 Sunday marked International Women's Day, we sat down with the leader of feminist activist group FEMEN, Inna Shevchenko, to talk about the ongoing struggle for women's rights, and the backlash against feminism. About women's day itself she says, "It is as important as any other day of fight." Shevchenko is one of the highest profile members of the group which has become notorious for their topless political protests. "The only fact that people felt uncomfortable seeing a women's body in a political context, in an unusual sexual context, shows how deeply rooted is this problem," Shevchenko says. "We still live in societies where a majority of people associates a women´'s naked body to a sexual body, to something that is sexual by definition".

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