30 March 2016

International efforts to end FGM continue

Campaign update by Anna Sørensen.

Three sentenced after Australia’s first criminal prosecution for FGM

Former midwife Kubra Magennis and a mother of two from the Dawoodi Bohra community have each been sentenced to 15 months in prison. They were found guilty in November of carrying out female genital mutilation on the two daughters of the unnamed mother. The oldest daughter underwent the procedure in a community member’s home in the New South Wales south coast town of Wollongong after her mother had asked Magennis to perform the ‘khatna’, which is what female genital mutilation is called in the community. She was told to imagine she was a “princess in a garden” while Magennis mutilated her. Her younger sister was subjected to FGM in their family home in Sydney in 2012.

A spiritual leader in the Dawoodi Bohra community, Shabbir Mahammedbhai Vaziri, has also been sentenced to 15 months in prison for helping the two women cover up the mutilation.

Read the full article here and learn more about the court case here.

Please also have a look at this article about how a programme run by New South Wales Health has proved successful in educating refugee and migrant women on the realities of female genital mutilation.

The time is now: three survivors call for gender equality

“Education, education, education.”
- Sheilla Akwara

Kakenya Ntaiya from Kenya, Monica Singh from India and Sheilla Akwara from Kenya spoke at a Commission on the Status of Women event in New York on March 16, telling their stories of surviving female genital mutilation and gender-based violence. All three say education is the key to change.

Learn more about the event here.

Men in India join anti-FGM campaign

"The community is patriarchal, so men's participation makes the campaign that much more effective."
- Masooma Ranalvi

Though men are all-powerful in the Indian Dawoodi Bohra community, they are rarely involved in the practice of female genital mutilation. Opposing it might cause social boycotts, which will again hurt their businesses and families.

However, Masooma Ranalvi’s petition to end female genital mutilation in India, has drawn thousands of male signatures and men have joined its Facebook campaign, speaking out against the practice.

A social media campaign by Sahiyo, an anti-FGM group in Mumbai, includes photographs of people saying why they oppose FGM. Men have also joined this campaign, with one man holding a poster saying it makes him ashamed of his community, and another calling it child abuse. A third man says a woman’s body needs no altering and her sexual desires need no tempering.

Read the full article here.

Child rights activist calls for progressive leaders to speak out against FGM

“In FGM, rights and dignity of children, especially young girls come under risk."
- Kailash Satyarthi

In an interview with DNA, child rights activist and Nobel peace prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi spoke about several global issues, including female genital mutilation. He said cultural barriers globally imposed on children in the name of religion must stop and called for progressive leaders to take action.

Read the full interview here.

Tanzanian girls welcome EU funded initiative to end FGM and child marriage

Girls in Tarime District are taking part in football tournaments in the fight against female genital mutilation and child marriage, an initiative funded by the European Union. Joined by Plan International and Children’s Dignity forum, a local anti-FGM and child marriage campaign in the Mara Region, the project aims to reach more than a thousand girls to help them boost anti-FGM and child marriage campaigns in the area with the use of sports.

The Sustainable Development Goals call for education to eliminate harmful practices

"Girls should also have a voice in decisions that affect them and their lives. We should not only work for young people, we should also work with them.''
- Jan Eliasson

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson spoke at a High-Level Forum on Adolescent Girls and the 2030 Agenda in New York, saying that UN member states are committed to give girls the opportunities they deserve growing up. He also said UNFPA and UNICEF’s Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation has helped to push communities where it is being practiced to abandon it.

Learn more about the SDGs and Eliasson’s speech here.

Love and acceptance ceremonies in Kenya and Tanzania

An interesting report on community programmes including an alternate rite of ceremony to help end FGM. According to Global Citizen, a process of educating elders, men and women in Maasai and Samburu communities in Kenya and Tanzania is replacing the practice of female genital mutilation. Starting with communal recognition where elders declare the abandonment of FGM in their community and the men learn the realities of the practice in order to take a stand against it, the community’s girls have two to three days of education. Here they learn about safe sex, equality and the need to end gender-based violence. To celebrate this, a ceremony is held where the girls sing and dance with the rest of the community.

Learn more about the new ceremonies here.

Irish FGM campaigner to become the Somali prime minister’s adviser on gender issues

“I’m not fighting my people – just asking them to understand the risks of FGM and start protecting girls from it.”
- Ifrah Ahmed

Ifrah Ahmed, a former asylum seeker from Somalia, survived female genital mutilation as a child and now works as a campaigner to end the practice. She is returning to her home country in April to contribute to a national FGM eradication programme.

Earlier this month she managed to persuade Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to sign a petition to ban FGM in the country, where it is estimated that 98% of the female population between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM. The petition already has more than 1 million signatures.

The Somali prime minister met with Ahmed and representatives of her charity the Ifrah Foundation in Rome last week, where he said he was “committed to outlaw female genital mutilation in Somalia through legislation advocacy, education and community engagement”.

Read more here and here.

Court case against Gambian FGM ban offenders transferred to High Court

AllAfrica.com have reported that the four-count criminal offence charge against Sunkaru Darboe and Saffiatou Darboe has been transferred to the Mansakonko High Court. Get all the details here.

Cricket Without Boundaries and LCCC Foundation launch new anti-FGM partnership

We are pleased to announce that the LCCC Foundation and Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) will be working together to develop and deliver a UK based anti-FGM programme to engage and educate through cricket. LCCC Foundation Staff will also be joining a team CWB volunteers in raising awareness at schools and in communities in Kenya in June.

28 Too Many will be working with CWB on these projects in Kenya and the UK.
Learn more about this new collaboration here.


Jaha Dukureh writes about why religios leaders are vital in the fight to end FGM in a recent blog for The Guardian: “Culture is not stagnant. When you look at where we started to where we are now, you will see that change is happening.”

Andrew Mendy talks about the challenge to end FGM in Gambia in a recent blog for 28 Too Many: “Dialogue is important in preventing FGM going underground in The Gambia; therefore, involving communities and not isolating them is key if The Gambia is going to be successful in the fight to end FGM.”

28 Too Many volunteer Anna Sørensen is studying journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Anna’s writes regular blogs which report on progress in the campaign to end FGM in the UK and internationally.

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