Organizations from around the world convened in a meeting last Thursday in Washington, D.C. to discuss next steps for combating the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting. (FGM/C) The meeting, “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Convening” was held in the offices of the Wallace Global Fund in Washington, D.C. This meeting was a follow up to the meeting held at the Department of Health and Human Services on October 2, 2014. Last year’s meeting was a listening session by government agencies, where a special committee heard suggestions from various organizations in the U.S.
This year’s meeting was hosted by the Wallace Global Fund with organizations from several parts of the world. Organizations attending the meeting included Equality Now, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, the Girl Generation, Safe Hands for Girls, African Sky, End FGM European Network, DFID, African Well Women’s Clinic, Human Dignity Foundation, Art and Activism, the European Union, Norwegian Ministry of Children and several U.S. Government agencies.
Representatives from the U.S. Government agencies addressed the attendees in the conference room, including those organizations which joined the meeting through teleconference from Europe and various parts of the United States. They told them that the United States is committed to ending female genital mutilation/cutting. The representatives explained the great progress that has been made in many aspects toward combating the practice of FGM.
In comparison to the strides that have been made by European countries and the United Kingdom, it is clear that the U.S. is trailing. However with the steps and progress made within a year by the U.S. organizations and the government, there is great hope for the future.
The organizations participating in the meeting were asked to share their highlights of work in 2015 and share the highlights of their plans for 2016. Those organizations agreed that the campaign to end FGM is not a task for one individual or for one organization or group; it is a job for several like-minded organizations, individuals and groups to collaborate their efforts in combatting this dreadful practice in the world.
Undoubtedly more of such meetings are needed and the frequency of these organizations, individuals and groups convening is a must.
The Board members of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation held their 2015 year-end meeting last Saturday. The year-end meeting is probably the most important meeting of the year. The Board revisits each program the organization ran and each event they held during the year. They review ‘lessons learned’, and vote on what to continue in the upcoming year and what not to repeat. The Board also reviews the annual report of the current year and the budget for the upcoming year. The year-end meeting is where the Board of Directors nominates and elects any incoming members and they reelect officers and directors.
One of the programs of which the Board expressed excitement on Saturday is their Kids Reach Program. The organization has 2016 plans to partner with City Gate, a Washington, D.C. based organization that runs several after-school programs. City Gate will incorporate Global Woman P.E.A.C.E.’s Kids Reach Program in their after school curriculum. The Kids Reach is a pilot program, designed for elementary and middle school children. The program includes geography, reading, writing, arts and crafts and theatrics, while City Gate’s program teaches the STEM system. All of the lessons mentioned in the program include teachings about the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting. Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation has appointed a special committee to design and prepare the lessons with proper child-friendly language. “We certainly do not want to frighten the children or confuse them with language beyond their comprehension”, said a member of the special committee.
The other program is their Group Support Program, which is connected to the OB-GYN Network. This year the organization launched the program with special Gynecologists in the Washington, D.C. area. The purpose of the program is to create a line-up of Gynecologists that are familiar with the medical treatment of post-FGM/C. This line-up of specialists will be provided by the organization to women who have undergone FGM/C to ensure that the women receive proper gynecological care. Included in this Network are Family Practitioners and Pediatricians. “It is crucial to include the medical community in the campaign to prevent as well as rehabilitate FGM/C”, remarked a board member.
Other matters the Board discussed are their biggest event of the year, the “Walk to End FGM” and a special observance of the International Day of Zero Tolerance. The walk-A-thon is already scheduled for October 15, 2016. International Day of Zero Tolerance is observed each year on February 6th.
Yes, you read this headline correctly. Female genital mutilation/cutting is practiced in Australia. According to the Medical Journal of Australia, due to an increasing number of immigrants that arrived and settled in Australia from African countries in which FGM is practiced, FGM has become prevalent in Australia and could increase. According to Australian immigration, between 1999 and 2009, 38,299 immigrants from Sudan, Somalia, Egypt and Ethiopia settled in Australia.
Australian law prohibits the practice of FGM. It is the policy of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that female genital mutilation of any type is prohibited. As far back as 1994, the Family Law Council admitted that it was likely that FGM was being practiced in Australia. Then in 2010, doctors and hospitals in Australia confirmed the suspicions that FGM was practiced there. According to the hospitals, they began to see a number of female patients who had undergone FGM. The Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital alone reported treating up to seven hundred post-FGM patients annually.
To quote the Australian Medical Journal, “It predates the Koran and the Bible, it has no basis in any religious text and is therefore not based in religious observance. Rather, FGM is focused on social control of girls’ and women’s bodies and capacity for sexual enjoyment and fulfilment.” FGM does indeed have nothing to do with religion, as there is no mention in either the Bible or the Qur’an.
Some of the justifications given for practicing FGM are: it is a rite of passage into womanhood; it ensures virginity (promoting family honor); it helps attract a husband because uncircumcised women are seen as immoral; and it prevents infidelity by controlling sexual desire and capacity.
Australia has put forth strong and clear prohibitions of FGM in both legal and medical policies, and possesses a generally enviable record of gender equality and health provision.
This article is a clear example that FGM is no longer an African, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian problem. FGM has become a world’s problem, and it has been that way for several years now.
Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation launched a special campaign petition on Change.org in August of this year to the U.S. Department of Education. The organization which advocates on behalf of women and girls against female genital mutilation has set a goal to collect at least 200,000 signatures; this is in its plight to get the U.S. Department of Education to include at least one lesson in its curriculum on female genital mutilation (FGM) in the elementary and middle schools.
The organization believes that educating the children from an early age, most especially the popular age range of seven through thirteen about the practice of FGM is crucial. The sooner the children are aware of the practice, the more likely thousands of girls in the U.S. can be spared from undergoing female genital mutilation. We need your signature to meet our goal.
To sign the petition, please click the link below and watch the video:
Join the Campaign and Sign Our Petition
By signing this petition, you are making your voice heard. You are joining the thousands of concerned citizens, not only of the United States but of the world to say that the practice of female genital mutilation must be stopped. You are saying that there is no longer a place in the world for atrocities and violence against woman. It is a tradition that is older than five centuries but it is tradition that can hinder a girl’s ability to bear children, and produces a lifetime of both physical and psychological pain.
If you have questions or comments about the campaign prior to signing the petition, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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