22 May 2012 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & women's rights

NPWJ in the news

Burkina U.S.A : Mme Chantal Compaoré préside une rencontre de haut niveau sur les mutilations génitales féminines
By LeFaso.net, 18 May 2012

 Le 15 mai 2012, s’est tenu dans la salle de conférence de l’ambassade d’Ethiopie à Washington D.C, sous la présidence de Mme Chantal Compaoré, première Dame du Burkina Faso, Ambassadrice de bonne volonté du Comité interafricain (CI-AF), coordonnatrice de la campagne internationale pour la résolution de l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies interdisant les mutilations génitales féminines en Afrique et dans le monde, un événement de haut niveau sur les pratiques traditionnelles : pont entre les Etats-Unis et l’Afrique.
 
Cet événement de haut niveau ayant ainsi mis en première ligne du front de la lutte les épouses des chefs d’Etats, a été organisée par la branche américaine du comité inter-Africain (IAC-USA) sur les pratiques traditionnelles ayant effet sur la santé des femmes et des enfants s’inspirant de cette sagesse africaine selon laquelle « derrière chaque grand homme, il y a une grande femme ». Cette rencontre a connu la participation de hautes personnalités américaines et immigrées, des leaders politiques et religieux, des avocats, des professeurs, des médecins, des activistes pour les droits des femmes qui sont d’ailleurs à la base de la mise sur pied de cette structure outre-Atlantique.
 
Cet engagement de l’Afrique, a affirmé Mme Chantal Compaoré, trouve l’une de ses meilleures matérialisations au Burkina Faso qui est, de son point de vue, un membre actif du comité inter-africain. Parce que, a-t-elle expliqué, l’engagement politique dans ce pays est au plus haut niveau en ce que le Chef de l’Etat lui-même, le Gouvernement et l’Assemblée nationale sont les porte-flambeaux de cette grande lutte. En conséquence, et en dressant à l’occasion les réalisations fortes de son pays dans le domaine, Mme Compaoré a indiqué que ces personnalités entrainaient ainsi tout le Burkina dans le noble combat pour l’élimination des pratiques traditionnelles néfastes. C’est la raison pour laquelle, a précisé Mme Chantal Compaoré dans son intervention, que dans le processus d’adoption d’une résolution de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies interdisant les mutilations génitales féminines, initiée par la coalition CI-AF- No Peace Without Justice et La Palabre, bénéficie du soutien politique et diplomatique du Burkina Faso.

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Articles

Mayo Clinic doctor departs amid genital mutilation controversy
By Christina Killion Valdezm The Post-Bulletin, 22 May 2012

 A Mayo Clinic doctor whose remarks regarding female genital mutilation ignited online controversy no longer works for Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.

Elhagaly's departure comes soon after a petition on the website change.org,  "Revoke the certifications of Hatem Elhagaly," was started by a person with the user name Raven King from Eden Prairie. Change.org is an online petition platform used by a variety of groups to garner support for causes. The petition, which took aim at an Arabic-language paper entitled " Circumcision of Girls: Jurisprudence and Medicine" by Elhagaly for "repeatedly pointing to the idea that female genital mutilation is 'an honor' for women," had 703 signatures as of Friday.
 
Elhagaly, who is also dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah  Islamic University of North America in Columbia Heights, however, stated that a subtype of female genital cutting, called the ritual nick, is harmless.

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Yemen: End child marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law
By EqualityNow, 21 May 2012

 The 2011 revolution in Yemen led to a change in government that women hoped would result in improved lives for them and their children. During the protests women played important roles, as evidenced by the awarding of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman for her "non violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work." Despite their significant involvement in the revolution however, Yemeni women fear that their rights and participation in the decision-making process will continue to be marginalized and activists on the ground have relayed that key issues such as child marriage will not be considered a priority by the new government. A draft child marriage bill, introduced in Yemen’s parliament in 2009 that fixed a minimum marriage age for girls at 17 and prescribed penalties and punishment for violators, is still pending. Further discussion about the bill has been postponed, and it is unclear if and when this issue will be taken up.

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Angola: Stop Rape, Abuse of Congolese Migrants
By AllAfrica.com, 20 May 2012

 Angolan security forces frequently abuse irregular migrants during expulsions from Angola, including sexual violence and other degrading and inhuman treatment, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 50-page report, "'If You Come Back We Will Kill You': Sexual Violence and Other Abuses against Congolese Migrants during Expulsions from Angola," describes an alarming pattern of human rights violations by members of Angolan security forces against Congolese migrants. Women and girls, who are often detained with their children, have been victims of sexual abuse including gang rape, sexual exploitation, and being forced to witness sexual abuse of other women and girls. Beatings, degrading and inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrests, and denial of due process have been common practices during roundups of undocumented migrants, and in custody before their deportation.
 
Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 100 victims and witnesses to abuses, during expulsions from the Cabinda enclave and the diamond-rich Lunda Norte province to the Congolese provinces of Bas-Congo and Kasai-Occidental in 2009 and 2011. Most of those migrants enter Angola to work in alluvial diamond mines or in informal markets.

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Egyptians debate 'traumatizing tradition' of female circumcision
By France24.com, 18 May 2012

 In Egypt, female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, was outlawed five years ago after a 12-year-old girl bled to death. However, this ban has done little to stop the widespread practice, and some conservative lawmakers are now pushing to make it legal again, to the despair of those fighting the centuries-old tradition.
 
Over 90 percent of all women of child-bearing age in Egypt have undergone female genital mutilation, or FGM, according to the 2008  Egypt Demographic and Health Survey. And despite educational campaigns, girls between 15 and 17 who underwent FGM only dropped from 77 percent to 74 percent between 2005 and 2008. In Egypt, FGM generally entails removing part of or the entire clitoris; in some cases, the labia may be removed, too. The procedure can take place anytime from infancy to early adolescence.
 
The revolution has not made matters easier for anti-FGM campaigners. Two-thirds of Egypt’s lower house of parliament is now controlled by Islamic parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the more hardline Salafis. Earlier this week, MP Nasser al-Shaker, of the Salafi-led Nour Party, defended FGM on a morning television show, arguing that it was mandated by Islam. He also pointed to former first lady Suzanne Mubarak’s efforts to eradicate the practice as all the more reason to repeal the ban. His comments immediately drew the ire of women’s rights groups.

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UN Women strengthens dialogue with civil society
By Pravda.ru, 18 May 2012

 The statistics are shocking - between 15 to 75% of women in every community suffer from some sort of violence. Up to 70% of these violent acts are perpetrated by intimate partners. Two women are murdered every day in Guatemala, on average; in India, there are many thousands of dowry-related deaths every year; in so-called developed nations such as the USA, Canada and Israel, 40 to 70% of women were murdered by intimate partners; on a worldwide basis, 50% of sexual assaults are committed against children under 16; up to 150 million women and girls suffer some kind of violence yearly; 30% of first sexual experiences are rapes or attempted rapes.

Three million girls a year in Africa are submitted to female genital mutilation; 100 to 140 million women and girls live with the scars of this practice; 60 million children a year are forced to make commitments in marriage ceremonies; 80% of human trafficking is committed against women and girls; 79% of these, or 632,000 women and girls a year, are trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation. 379,200 women and girls are subjected to conditions of sexual slavery every year.
 
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet today announced the members of her Global Civil Society Advisory Group that will facilitate regular consultations and dialogue between civil society and UN Women.

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Curb HIV With Female Circumcision And Shaving Heads, Says Zimbabwe Politician Morgan Femai
  By Sara C Nelson, Huffington Post UK, 15 May 2012

 A Zimbabwean politician has sparked outrage by suggesting the spread of HIV can be curbed if women shave their heads, stop bathing and deliberately make themselves look unattractive.
Morgan Femai, an MDC-T senator for Chikomo said the measures were required because men were finding it difficult to resist well-dressed, attractive women.
While addressing a parliamentary HIV awareness workshop in Kadoma on Friday, he said: “What I propose it that the government should come up with a law that compels women to have their heads clean-shaven like what the Apostolic sects do,” Zim Eye reports.
Senator Femai also appeared to suggest female circumcision would help stop the spread of disease.

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