16 May 2017 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & women's rights


Cameroon’s ‘army of aunties’ unite to protect vulnerable girls from sexual abuse
By The Independent, 16 May 2017

Having been raped at the age of six by a 23-year-old friend of her brother, Charnelle Lumiere recalls how she kept crying, blood trickling down her legs, as her mother recoiled in shock. Seven years later, Lumiere finally mustered up the courage to run away when her uncle, too, began to sexually abuse her. But when the 13-year-old sought shelter with a neighbour, she was allowed to stay only one night. “What happens in the family, should stay in the family, one should never interfere,” she told Lumiere, and sent her home. Aged 17, out of school and pregnant by a classmate who had harassed her into having sex with him, she decided to take her own life by hanging herself. Luckily, her brother found her and cut her down from the tree with just seconds to spare. Now she is back on her feet and on a mission to help a new generation of young people avoid the same abuses. And she is not alone. In Cameroon, more than 21,000 women volunteers in more than 350 groups around the country have come together as part of Renata - the national aunties network - to help victims of sexual abuse, violence and early pregnancy rebuild their lives “We call ourselves 'tantines' - aunties in French,” said Cathy Aba, a 28-year-old spokeswoman of Renata who was herself an victim of “breast ironing”, a painful, dangerous practice designed to suppress a girl's physical development. “Aunties, because an auntie is usually the person a young person can seek help and advice from on issues they can't talk to their parents about. “We are all young mothers, and we are all survivors of abuse, so we know exactly what we are talking about,” she said. In Cameroon, beatings, sexual abuse and rape, particularly within the family, are issues often swept under the carpet.


Pregnancy problems are leading global killer of ​​females aged 15 to 19
By The Guardian, 16 May 2017

Pregnancy complications are the leading cause of death globally among females aged 15-19, with self-harm in second place, a global study has found. More than 1.2 million female and male adolescents die annually, the World HealthOrganisation (WHO) report said – the majority from preventable causes including mental health issues, poor nutrition, reproductive health problems and violence. The authors said that failing to tackle the health of 10- to 19-year-olds could undermine the improvements achieved in maternal and child health worldwide, pointing out that too often adolescent health was overlooked. “By investing in adolescent health, you actually get a triple benefit because you get a healthier adolescent now, that healthier adolescent becomes a healthier, more productive adult in the near future, and also for those who have children, they become a more healthy parent ,” said David Ross, lead author of the study. “If you have a healthy parent, that spills over into a healthy child.” The WHO surveyed the causes of death for 10- to 19-year-olds in 2015. It found that the leading cause, globally, was road injuries, which caused 115,300 such deaths.


Trump Administration Vastly Expands Global Anti-Abortion Policy
by The New York Times, 15 May 2017

The Trump administration said on Monday it was vastly expanding the scope of a policy blocking U.S. assistance to foreign groups that perform or provide information about abortions, a move critics say will hinder women's access to critical care. The new policy means that $8.8 billion in U.S. assistance to an array of programs fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and maternal and child health will be subject to the so-called Mexico City policy. The policy, introduced in 1984, holds that no U.S. government funding for family planning services can be given to foreign clinics or groups that offer abortion services or discuss abortion, even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources. The policy previously applied to a much narrower stream of about $600 million in U.S. government funds. Since it was unveiled, the Mexico City rule has been routinely rescinded under Democratic administrations and reinstated under Republican ones, and is used by presidents to signal where they stand on abortion rights. Critics of the policy call it the "global gag rule," and say it hurts vulnerable women worldwide who depend on aid groups for their healthcare. Even when the Mexico City policy is not in place, federal law prevents the use of U.S. funding for abortions abroad.


Gender Equality Can Save Women’s Lives in Disasters - We must not miss the opportunity to set this right
By Global Issues, 11 May 2017

Later this month, the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will take place in Mexico. This meeting provides an important opportunity to reboot global progress on embedding gender equality in disaster risk management and redress deadly exclusion. Even though the quality of disaggregated data needs to be improved, research shows that women and girls die in much greater numbers in extreme disaster events. The inclusion of women's perspectives and leadership is a necessary recognition both of the greater risks women experience and their unique roles in resilience building, disaster response and recovery. Precisely for this reason, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which UN Member States adopted two years ago to reduce global disaster losses, emphasizes that a gender perspective should be integrated into all policies and practices. Progress on this aspect will be key in the monitoring of the Framework's implementation. Case studies developed around major disaster events demonstrate how important it is to recognize how gender relates to risk, if that risk is to be minimized. In April of 1991, Bangladesh experienced a severe cyclone; it is estimated that 90% of the 140,000 people who lost their lives were women. In the 2003 heatwave that swept Europe, most of those who died were elderly women. Women also died in much greater numbers in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, often uninformed about the impending calamity, weighed down by heavy clothing, and many lacking an ability to swim or climb trees. However, to date the scale of women's vulnerability and capacity has not been sufficiently monitored and quantified. The 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction, took place only weeks after the Indian Ocean Tsunami revealed how gender equality is a matter of life and death in disaster risk management. The Conference flagged institutionalising a gender perspective as a key issue.


Gambia: YPM Launches FGM, GBV Hour On Unique FM Basse Station
by AllAfrica, 11 May 2017

Young People in the Media (YPM) has launched a new initiative meant to raise more awareness on issues relating to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Gender Based Violence (GBV) on Unique FM, Basse Branch. The radio programme was aired on at 3:00 p.m. last Sunday on Unique FM Basse Branch. It attracted numerous audience in Basse and its environs, as more listeners tuned on the radio. The YPM Children's Hour Radio talk show on FGM and Gender Based Violence, is expected to be followed by another programme at the same time next week on Thursdays and Sundays respectively. Unique FM Radio Station and The Girls Generation (TGG) supported weekly radio programme, is run by a dynamic group of children and young people, and spearheaded by Young People in the Media (YPM) Basse Cluster. The show dubbed, "Breakthrough Hour," is part of a six-month initiative that is providing children and young people an opportunity to reach out to communities via the airwaves to discuss and amplify issues as well as captures positive stories and highlight the challenges faced by girls, families and communities in tackling FGM/C and Gender Base Violence with a particular focus to end the practice in a generation. Abdou Jatta, executive coordinator of YPM said, the programme is run by children and young people between the ages of 11 -17 years. The radio programme, he went on, will be broadcast twice every week on Thursdays and Sundays respectively between the hours of 4-5 p.m. in English and local languages.