Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made a commitment on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The commitment by President Sirleaf includes domestic violence and female genital mutilation. She promised to ensure that the domestic violence bill is passed into law, that female genital mutilation (FGM) is banned and to ensure the participation of women in politics in that West African nation. According to the report, Sirleaf committed to ensure the complete adherence to the enforcement of the ban on female genital mutilation; that is in light of the 2011 Law on Children which offers protection against all forms of violence, including FGM.
While Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation applauds the Liberian President for the long-awaited announcement against both domestic violence and female genital mutilation, the actual enactment of the ban remains to be seen. The President makes this announcement in the wake of the end of her tenure. During her administration, it has been noted that the President has been soft on the practice of female genital mutilation.
With the strong hold on the practice of FGM by the Sande Society in that country, it is not surprising that anti-FGM Liberians are pessimistic over their President’s recent announcement. Many countries on the continent of Africa have banned the practice of FGM, yet most of those countries continue to battle the practice. Egypt was the first country on that continent to ban the practice, but a thirteen year old girl lost her life last year to FGM in that country. Banning or outlawing the practice only puts the law on the books in a country; it does not guarantee eradication.
The most important factor is the enforcement of the law against this practice. Will the Liberian law authorities be able to enforce the law and bring perpetrators to justice? Many of the Liberian lawmakers are bonafide members of the Poro and Sande Societies. The Poro Society is the male version of the female Sande; the Sande Bush schools lead the practice of female genital mutilation in Liberia.
According to the reports, the Liberian President also promised to collaborate with the Liberian Legislature to pass the proposed Domestic Violence Act into law, which was endorsed by the Liberian Cabinet in June this year. It is currently before the lawmakers for enactment. The Bill defines Domestic Violence (DV) pursuant to Article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (VAW).
With a documented population of 249.9 Million, Indonesia is a Southeast Asian nation that is made up of thousands of volcanic islands, and is the home to hundreds of ethnic groups. It sits in the Indian Ocean near Thailand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. However there is one alarming significant point about Indonesia. It is the prevalent practice of female genital mutilation.
According to a report by Stop FGM Middle East, female genital mutilation has been practiced in Indonesia since the 17th century. The practice is said to be common in all eight regions. The fact that Indonesia was one of the first countries to ban the practice of FGM in 2006 does not grant much credit to the government of that country. Although the Indonesian government had prohibited the practice by health officials, but the ban was short-lived due to opposition by the Ulema Council, which is the highest Islamic advisory body of that country. By November of 2010, the Indonesian government caved in to pressure from Muslim organizations in that country and lifted the 2006 ban. Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world.
Medical professionals such as midwives and doctors in that country are authorized to perform FGM by scratching the skin that covers the front of the clitoris, without hurting the clitoris. The fact remains, any tampering such as cuts and scratches to the clitoris will inflict pain and hurt. Therefore that concept is ludicrous.
Don’t be late, register for the Walk to End FGM. If you are traveling to Washington from out of state, the official hotel for the walk is the JW Marriott.
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The deadline to book your hotel reservations and obtain the special rate is October 9th. You only have a few more days before the current Walk to End FGM registration fee increases.
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It is not so often that a book is published about female genital mutilation. In fact, there are not enough books on the topic. It is with pleasure that Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation introduces to our readers a new book on female genital mutilation, written by Hilary Burrage.
The book, Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A U.K. Perspective (Ashgate, 2015) details the situation which not only the U.K. currently faces but other Western nations as well. The author pens her understanding on how female genital mutilation (FGM) became so prevalent in modern Western nations in recent years.
In twelve chapters, the author outlines the consequences of FGM, which are carried out from one generation to another. She stresses the obstetric problems women encounter after they have undergone female genital mutilation. She indicates that with health risks and problems, the children of survivors of FGM (both boys and girls) either die or live marred lives due to their difficult entries into the world. Burrage states, “It is sometimes lethal and often permanently damaging, both physically and psychologically.”
The author solicits statements, interviews and comments from FGM survivors, friends and colleagues of survivors, activists and advocates against female genital mutilation. This book is recommended as a handbook, an educational piece and a reference source. It makes for a great read. The book is available in paperback, hardcover and e-book.
The author, Hilary Burrage is a freelance Sociologist and Community Activist. She has been a Senior Lecturer in Health and Social care and a University Research Associate in Community Health. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Merseyside NHS Ambulance & Trust, and a Trustee of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She is also a Correspondent with the Guardian.
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If you are interested in becoming an ambassador for GWPF, send us an email with your brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us with questions 1.703.818.3787.
As part of GWPF’s campaign to educate the American public on the practice of FGM, the organization believes that having a representative in each state is a key factor in helping to raise awareness throughout the U.S.
The requirements to being an ambassador for GWPF are as follows:
- Have basic general knowledge of the practice of female genital mutilation
- Be able to speak to an audience about the practice
- Be able to represent GWPF at an “End FGM Social” in your state
- Come up with new ideas to raise awareness about the practice of FGM in your state
- Help promote GWPF’s programs in your state
- Already have a connection with a university in your state or can establish a connection
- You do not have to be a survivor or at-risk girl to be an ambassador
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