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Dec 23, 2010

December 2010 FGM Update

FGM Update: December 2010

Working to End FGM in Mali 
Equality Now has been ramping up efforts to ensure passage of a strong law against FGM in Mali, in partnership with the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC). In September 2010, Equality Now staff and three parliamentarians from Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo traveled to Mali to meet with their Malian counterparts to discuss strategies that can be used towards adopting a law against FGM in Mali. While the Mali parliamentarians expressed reluctance to pass such a law, they did agree to develop a plan of action that, it is hoped, will ultimately lead to the passage of an anti-FGM law. One extremely positive outcome of the Mali meetings was a statement by the Malian Minister for Gender indicating support for any anti-FGM actions or strategies adopted by parliament.  

FGM in the United States: An Update
While FGM is illegal in the U.S., thousands of girls living in the country are at risk of being subjected to FGM, either in the U.S. or when transported to their families’ home countries, often during their school holidays. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 1997 that over 168,000 girls and women living in the U.S. have either been subjected to FGM or are in danger of being so. 

During the legislative session that will end January 3, 2011, U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)  introduced “The Girls Protection Act (H.R. 5137),” bipartisan legislation that would address this gaping hole in protections for girls and women. While the 111th Congress did not vote on the bill during its session, Equality Now will continue to rally support for passage in the next legislative session.

Africa Rising: Building Awareness of the Atrocities of FGM
Africa Rising, spearheaded by Equality Now and directed by Emmy award-winning director Paula Heredia, is an insightful look at the frontlines of a quiet revolution taking Africa by storm, as grassroots efforts to end FGM slowly but steadily gain traction. The film was screened twice in September 2010 at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. (See the attached program for the festival and the description of Africa Rising on page 23.)

Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda: Urgent Alerts
After having received reports of mass mutilation of girls in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, Equality Now released urgent alerts and wrote letters to the President of Uganda, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda and the Police Commissioner in Kenya. The letters are summarized below:

Tanzania – Urgent Alert calling on the government of Tanzania to rescue girls at risk of undergoing FGM and prosecute perpetrators:
Following reports indicating that as many as 5,000 girls are at risk of undergoing FGM in Tarime region in Tanzania during the holiday season (from November to January),  Equality Now issued an urgent alert calling on the government of Tanzania to take action and prevent FGM from taking place. The alert highlighted the need for the government to put in place a preventative mechanism to save girls who have not undergone the practice and arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators.

Uganda – Letters to the President and Inspector General of Police:
Following reports of planned mutilation in the Sabiny region in Uganda, Equality Now wrote a letter urging the President of Uganda, His Excellence Yoweri Museveni, to take action in enforcing the new anti FGM law to ensure that all women and girls at risk are protected from undergoing FGM. In the letter, Equality Now highlighted his role in adopting the law against FGM in Uganda and the ratification to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Kenya – Letter to the Police Commissioner:
Following press reports of planned FGM activities in different parts of the country, Equality Now wrote a letter to the Police Commissioner asking him to act urgently to investigate and to prevent girls from undergoing FGM in Kuria, Marakwet and other parts of the country. In the letter, we called on the Commissioner to enforce the Children’s Act and arrest those planning to conduct the mutilation.

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