12.2.2013. By Emma Batha
ROME (TrustLaw) – Indonesian campaigners fighting to end female genital mutilation (FGM) have told their government it must ban the practice in the light of the new U.N. General Assembly resolution on eradicating FGM.
It is believed to be the first case where campaigners have used the U.N. resolution to exert pressure on a government.
Indonesia banned FGM in 2006, but the Health Ministry issued a regulation in 2010 which allows the practice if it is carried out by medical professionals, such as doctors, midwives and nurses.
Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) told an international FGM conference in Rome last week that it had written to the health minister urging him to revoke the regulation. Read more
by Ufuk Gokcen (Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations)
Female genital mutilation has long survived, hidden under the cloak of religious, cultural, and tribal practices, but this week, as we commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), it is time for every leader whether political or religious, whether male or female, to unequivocally stand in opposition to FGM. We can no longer allow the ignorance surrounding women’s rights and FGM to be perpetuated by traditions and rituals disguised as religious teachings.
As the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Ambassador to the United Nations, I personally find it important to combat any notion that FGM is in the true nature of Islam. OIC Secretary General Professor Ihsanoglu recently stated that FGM “is a ritual that has survived over centuries and must be stopped as Islam does not support it.” Yet, despite statements from political and religious leaders and studies such as the Frontiers Program report put out by USAID de-linking FGM from Islam, the practice continues at an alarming rate. This can be explained by the fact that the practice takes its roots primarily in tribal culture, not religion; though some misguided local religious scholars might contest otherwise. Read more
6.2.2013. Press Release – The Hague and Suleimania,
Currently one hundred and forty million girls and women are estimated to have undergone a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure. On the 6th of February, which was introduced by the United Nations as The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, Hivos and Wadi – frontrunners in the battle against FGM – call upon the Secretary General and the General Assembly of the United Nations to step up efforts to end this practice. We do so at a time when women’s rights and violence against women are discussed more than ever before, especially in the Middle East.
One hundred and forty million is a very large and deplorable number, albeit an estimatie mainly focusing on Africa. However, growing evidence provided by the field work of Wadi proves that FGM is not only an ‘African problem’ but also widespread in various parts of Asia, including the Middle East, so a much higher number may be closer to the truth.
Time to act NOW
On the international level, the passing of a resolution calling for a ban on FGM by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012 was a milestone. Although the resolution is not legally binding, it will enhance the moral and political incentive for governments to act on FGM. And it will encourage activists worldwide to speak out against a deadly ‘tradition’.
Therefore, it is time to act now. In 2003, the United Nations proclaimed the imperative of eliminating female genital mutilation. However, no action has been taken to date by the UN bodies to stop FGM in the Middle East. Why, for instance, have they not yet become active in Iraq? What is being done about FGM in Yemen, where instances in some regions are known to reach 50 percent?
For this reason WADI and Hivos are calling upon the UN, specifically on the Secretary General, to step up efforts to end this irreparable and irreversible abuse that currently affects up to one hundred and forty million women and girls globally.
Furthermore, we call upon the UN to conduct research into the scale of FGM in the Middle East and to collect reliable data in Middle Eastern countries where undeniable evidence for the harmful practice can be found.
Let us break the silence and search for the truth.
A promising example of what is possible to achieve in the fight against FGM in a remarkably short period of time can be witnessed in Iraq. Nineteen months ago, on June 20, 2011, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq adopted a comprehensive law against many forms of gender-related violence, including FGM. It was a unique step in the whole region – and it was put on the agenda by committed activists and NGOs. Wadi, the organisation at the heart of the cfight against FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan, has been teaching and campaigning against FGM for nine years now.
Although it was an enormous success, the adoption of the law was merely a first step. The next challenge is to ensure that the law will be implemented properly. And since FGM does not stop at the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan, Wadi and Hivos – in coordination with Pana Center in Kirkuk – are rallying for support on an initiative to pass a law against FGM for the whole of Iraq. On 6 February 2013, a draft law for a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iraq will be submitted to the Iraqi parliament.
In Kirkuk, a town of mixed ethnic population in the north of central Iraq, Pana and Wadi have been cooperating on comprehensive field research that revealed that 38 percent of the 1212 females interviewed had undergone female circumcision. The research proved that FGM exists among Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’is alike. Since Kirkuk’s population mix may be regarded as a blueprint for the whole country, the results are strong evidence that FGM is being practised all over Iraq.
A good insight into the situation in Pakistan gives the Express Tribune’s Sub-Editor Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam. In Pakistan, female circumcision is known to be practiced by a few communities along the Iran-Balochistan border, and a few isolated tribes, as well as the Dawoodi Bohra community.
“I don’t want my daughter to have to go through it. I have been through it; my mom has been through it and so has my naani (grandmother).
We have been going through this forever.
It’s a custom – the done thing, but I can’t imagine my baby having to go through the same!
I am 34 and I still remember it distinctly. I felt humiliated even as a seven-year-old. It was not very painful, but I felt slighted at how they held me down, how embarrassed I felt. But most of all I feel resentment – even today – over the fact that we never talked about it before or after that. Everyone pretends like it never happened.”
This is the story related by a Pakistani mother whom I talked to today about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), practiced in her community.
Today, as the world observes the “International Zero Tolerance Day to FGM/C”, many remain blissfully unaware that this custom, often referred to as female circumcision, is also practiced in Pakistan.
According to the World Health Organisation, FGM/C is a procedure that “intentionally alters or injures female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
The reasons are cultural, traditional and religious. Predominantly, the reason traditionally given for FGM/C is almost inconceivable – that it ensures a woman will remain chaste and guard her against promiscuity, as depending on the degree of the procedure performed, she may not be able to experience sexual pleasure as fully as a woman whose genitalia remain unaltered.
In Pakistan, female circumcision is practiced by a few communities along the Iran-Balochistan border, and a few isolated tribes, as well as the Dawoodi Bohra community. Having said as much, here it is mostly not done very invasively, as opposed to some African countries where FGM/C may involve removal of the entire clitoris and labia.
CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s top court reinforced a ban on female genital mutilation Sunday. The court rejected a lawsuit that challenged a 2007 health ministry decision to criminalize FGM, according to Al Ahram Online.
The suit was first filed in 2008 by Islamist lawyers who claimed the FGM ban violated Article 2 of the 1971 constitution and was inconsistent with the principles of Sharia Law.
FGM, according to the World Health Organization, includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. They can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating, and later lead to cysts, infections, infertility and complications in child birth. Read more