Parliamentary Workshop on FGM legislation

Djibouti, 8-9 October 2008

The international association No Peace Without Justice, in cooperation with the National Union of Djibouti Women (UNFD) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, and under the auspices of the Presidency of the Parliament of the Republic of Djibouti, is organizing a Parliamentary Workshop on “The law against FGM and its Applicability”, on 8-9 October, in the Parliament of Djibouti. The workshop is an integral part of a project, conducted with the financial support of Italian Cooperation and in partnership with UNICEF, which aims at the development of a legal, political and social environment to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls and the abandonment of FGM.

The main objective of the workshop, involving parliamentarians, government representatives and civil society activists from Djibouti, is to assess the impact of existing legal instruments to fight FGM and to identify options for enhancing their effectiveness within the framework of the National Strategy for the abandonment of all forms of FGM, adopted by the Djiboutian Ministry for the Advancement of Women in 2006.
The Republic of Djibouti has for many years been at the forefront in the fight against female genital mutilation and for the promotion and protection of women’s rights as a whole. The law banning the practice of FGM dates back to 1995 and since then the political willingness to intensify efforts for the abandonment of FGM has been repeatedly reaffirmed at the highest level, in particular through the declaration of His Excellency the President of the Republic on 8 March 2004 and 2005 and especially with the ratification of the Maputo Protocol on women's rights in Africa, of which Article 5 explicitly prohibits the practice of FGM..
This workshop is unprecedented in Djibouti, as it is the first time that the legislative initiative on such a controversial issue is taken by parliamentarians. The meeting falls within the National Strategy initiated in 2006 by the Ministry for the Advancement of Women which has recently established a process of revision of Article 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This process of revision is intended to facilitate the capacity of organisations - such as Associations of Defence of Djibouti Women – to initiate civil action proceedings and denounce violence for which the victims themselves are not in condition to ensure recourse to justice. This approach is particularly valuable in the fight against FGM as it is a violation that, since the law was adopted, has provided no recourse to justice while the practice remains widespread.
The workshop will also be an occasion to follow up the recommendations from the Sub-Regional Conference on Female Genital Mutilation "Towards a Political and Religious Consensus Against Female Genital Mutilation", held in Djibouti on 2 and 3 February 2005 and organized by No Peace Without Justice in collaboration with the Government and under the auspices of the First Lady Ms Kadri Mahamoud Haid, and during which Djibouti presented the instruments of ratification of the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
The seminar will be chaired by the President of the Parliament of Djibouti and will be conducted through sessions dealing with different aspects related to the fight against FGM: legal / legislative tools, role of religion, education and health services. Participants will include representatives of the Ministry for the Advancement of Women, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for Religious Affairs, judges of the Supreme Court and representatives of the Inter-African Committee on harmful traditional practices, No Peace Without Justice and the National Union of Djibouti Women.