After Women’s groups in the Somali town of Galkayo, near the place of birth of Waris Dirie, was lobbying the authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland to enact a law against FGM, the practice has been successfully banned.
Two decades of civil war have contributed to the negligence of women’s rights across the Somali region. Women continue to suffer from the tragedies of the war as well as from practices including FGM.
However, the government of Puntland enacted laws against Female Genital Mutilation in November 2011, a development that has been welcomed by human rights activists across the world. The new law came into effect after long discussions and eventual support by the traditional and religious leaders in addition to various scholars.
Photo Credit: PDRC
To encourage these positive developments, Interpeace local partner Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) hosted a two-day conference with leading women’s rights activists from across the region – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya as well as from Somali Region: Somaliland, Puntland and South-Central Somalia.
The conference was organized by Puntland Ministry of Women Development and Family Affairs (MOWDAFA) and was held at PDRC’s Main conference hall in Garowe, Puntland. The conference focused on how to best approach policies around FGM.
Over 150 women and other concerned Somalis participated in the conference. They traveled from across Puntland, Somaliland, and South-Central Somalia. Those from the Somali diaspora in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti also attended.
Photo Credit: PDRC
As a persistent activist for women’s rights and family development, Ms. Asha Gelle Dirie, Puntland’s Minister of Women and Family Affairs organized the conference. The Transitional Federal Government’s Minister of Women Development, Ms. Maryan Aweys, officially opened the conference.
Among the dignitaries who participated in the conference were the First Lady of Puntland H.E. Abdurahman Faroole, the Vice President of Puntland Abdismed Ali Shire and Ms. Amina Abib who is a Goodwill Ambassador of the FGM eradication campaign. In her opening speech Ms. Abib expressed her joy to attend a conference focused on bringing an end to Female Genital Mutilation. The conference emphasized the need for Somali women to join forces with each other to end this practice.
The conference produced 9 proposals on how best to end FGM across Puntland and the Horn of Africa.
14/01/2012 – A new study out of Iraq finds evidence to support the suspicion that girls who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting are prone to mental disorders and psychological trauma.
The study shows what many psychologists have long suspected but had little research to confirm: girls who have undergone (FGM/C) are prone to mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The research was conducted by Jan Ilhan Kizilhan of the University of Freiburg, an expert in psychotraumatology – a type of psychotherapy for people who have suffered extreme trauma. The results of his research were published in the April-June 2011 edition of the European Journal of Psychiatry.
His research from among a group of 79 circumcised girls if northern Iraq found rates of PTSD at around 44 percent, depression at 34 percent, anxiety at 46 percent and mental disorders whose symptoms are unexplainable physical illnesses at around 37 percent.
The girls who were included in his study were between the ages of 8 and 14, and to the best of his knowledge had not suffered any other traumatic events beyond FGM/C.
These rates were up to seven times higher than among non-circumcised girls from the same region and were comparable to rates among people who suffered early childhood abuse.
The tradition of female genital mutilation, or FGM, has survived for centuries in this deeply traditional region of northern Iraq. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM is the “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.”
“The tragedy is that FGM is perpetuated by mothers, aunts and other women who love and want the best for their children,” said a report by international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW). The study added that such women see the practice as necessary for their daughters to grow up as “marriageable” and “respectable” members of society.
Estimates of the prevalence of FGM/C in Iraqi Kurdistan vary wildly depending on the province, but surveys have indicated the overall figure could be around 40 percent.
Kizihan stated that although the region is home to five million people, it has just 13 psychologists and only one with expertise in psychotherapy.
It is estimated that more than 100 million women and girls have been subjected to FGM/C worldwide, and in some societies it can signify a woman’s eligibility for marriage. In some instances, it is used to reduce sexual desire. In other cases, misguided medical or health beliefs are cited.
Read the Press Release by Stop FGM Kurdistan:
BEIRUT, 18 JANUARY 2012, The first conference ever on female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Middle East is currently taking place in Beirut, Lebanon, with participants from Iraqi Kurdistan, Central Iraq and Yemen with input from experts from Indonesia and Egypt. The groundbreaking event, organized by the non-governmental organizations Wadi and Hivos, is serving as a first common platform for experts and activists fighting FGM in the Middle East. Its purpose is to learn from each other, create a network and cooperation structure, and develop a coherent transnational strategy to eradicate FGM.
Until recently FGM was considered to be practiced mostly in African countries. Not much information is available about this practice in the Middle East. However, research, publications and various other evidence indicate that it is also practiced in Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Oman and Saudi Arabia. FGM is still very much a taboo issue in the Middle East. It is high time to break the silence about this gross violation of human and women’s rights.
No side issue
Politicians, the media, international organisations, most notably the UN, have since long recognized FGM in Africa and treated it as merely an African issue. Considering the astonishingly high FGM rates in the Middle East it is striking that the above mentioned actors are still treating the problem in the Middle East much as a side issue. The Beirut conference was set up in order to draw the world’s attention to this neglected fact and send a strong message that it is time for concerted action.
For instance, in the Beirut conference a physician from Southern Iraq presented evidence (interview recordings) in public which indicates FGM is also practiced in Central and South Iraq. The practice is a complete taboo for Iraqis and flatly denied by the Iraqi Central Government.
Most of the heavily affected countries in Asia are part of the Muslim World. Many Muslim religious leaders are playing a considerable role in the justification of the practice, however participants agreed that it should not be labeled a religious practice. In each country, religion, politics, the media and of course local communities themselves must be won for the cause to play a positive role in the eradication of FGM. Public awareness is as important as pressure on the respective governments to act.
The Beirut conference calls upon the people and governments of the countries in the Middle East and the international community to start addressing FGM, and notably:
- Request civil society organizations to provide data about FGM in their respective countries;
- Pressure governments of countries in the Middle East to take up FGM as gross human rights violation;
- Pressure governments from the Middle East to collect credible data and statistics about prevalence of FGM;
- Set up a regional network addressing FGM in the Middle East;
- Make FGM a core issue within UN policies active in countries in the Middle East where FGM is practiced;
- Request EU, UN and US to address FGM as a core issue within their foreign policies towards countries in the Middle East.
Background information on FGM (source: WHO):
FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is often carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death. FGM comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers.
For more information please contact:
Thomas Von der Osten-Sacken (Wadi) +49-15156906002 or thomasvdo yahoo.de
Jessie Hexspoor (Hivos) +31-641969050 or jhexspoor hivos.nl
Special event from Esther Habermacher:
On 27th November 2011 the successful charity workshop “ONE DAY FROM WOMEN FOR WOMEN” was organized by Esther Habermacher (www.luna-yoga-schweiz.ch/) at Switzerland. 1,000 CHF were collected through Yoga, Dance and Meditation and will be donated to the Desert Flower Foundation for their new project “TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN”.
Thank you so much for your great support!
The Desert Flower Foundation
Waris Dirie und die gesamte Desert Flower Foundation bedanken sich recht herzlich für die eingegangene Spende, diese kommt zur Gänze dem aktuellen Projekt TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN zu Gute, welches Frauen aus den ärmsten Regionen Afrikas unterstützt.
Ein Event der besonderen Art von Esther Habermacher:
Esther Habermacher (www.luna-yoga-schweiz.ch/) organisierte am 27.November 2011 den erfolgreichen Charity Workshop „EIN TAG VON FRAUEN FÜR FRAUEN“ in der Schweiz. 1,000 CHF wurden durch Yoga, Tanz und Meditation gesammelt und werden nun der Desert Flower Foundation für ihr neues Projekt zur Verfügung gestellt.
DANKE für die großartige Unterstützung!
Das Desert Flower Foundation Team
As published in the New Zealand Magazine:
An international study says “a growing number” of girls and young women living in immigrant communities in New Zealand are at risk of genital mutilation.
The practice – which involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons – is banned in New Zealand.
Any person who carries out the procedure, or orders it to be done to a dependant, may be imprisoned for up to seven years.
The Ministry of Health last year funded a series of workshops on the practice, with those present being told there was no evidence that the controversial female circumcision operations occurred in New Zealand.
It is a stance that is also shared by the NZ Female Genital Mutilation Education Programme – a community-based initiative partly set up in response to the rising number of women settling in New Zealand from countries that practise the procedure.
But a newly released United Nations report on a hoped-for global end to female genital mutilation states: “The practice is prevalent in 28 countries in Africa and in some countries in Asia and the Middle East.
“In addition, a growing number of women and girls among immigrant communities have been subjected to or are at risk of female genital mutilation in Australia and New Zealand.”
Under New Zealand law, it is illegal to send or make any arrangement for a child to be sent out of the country to have the practice performed, to assist or encourage any person in New Zealand to perform the procedure on a New Zealand citizen or a resident outside of the country and to convince or encourage any other New Zealand citizen or resident to go outside of New Zealand to have the procedure performed. The law was passed in 1996 and to date there have been no prosecutions.
The New Zealand FGM organisation says some female migrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Indonesian Muslims had undergone female circumcision before arriving in the country.
Somalia is among the countries that the procedure is most practised in. Thousands of Somalis have sought refuge in New Zealand since the early 1990s after the African nation was wracked by civil war.
Kenya belongs to those african countries where the FGM is widespread among several Kenyan tribes. Despite the fact that this country has joined the Maputo Protocol, little has been done so far. However, change is coming as authorities started taking action against those who practice FGM.
Read the story as posted by Kenyan Newspaper The STANDARD:
Police have launched a manhunt for a chief and an elderly woman in Tana River County who subjected 10 underage girls to Female Genital Mutilation late last year.
The Kalakacha location chief is said to have allowed the girls, who included his seven-year-old daughter, to be subjected to the outlawed rite.
The chief ran away after he discovered that police were looking for him.
The woman being sought by police is aged 65 and is suspected to have conducted the rite.
Tana River DO George Kamweru said it was unfortunate that the incident took place under the supervision of the local chief who was expected to protect the children.
Kamweru said he had asked the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation in the area to record a statement with the police for appropriate action to be taken against the chief.
On Wednesday, a group of women raided the home of the chief and found ten girls recuperating lying in a Manyatta.
Starke Leistung für starke Frauen.
Together for African Women – die Charity-Aktion von Mey bodywear und Supermodel Waris Dirie übertrifft alle Erwartungen. Vor knapp einem Jahr rief Mey bodywear gemeinsam mit der Menschenrechtsaktivistin die Initiative zugunsten afrikanischer Frauen ins Leben. Träger der Aktion waren handgewebte Charity-Schals, deren Erlös in voller Höhe der Desert Flower Foundation von Waris Dirie und damit der Ausbildung von afrikanischen Frauen zugutekommt. Das Ergebnis kann sich mehr als sehen lassen: Stolze 60.000 Euro hat Mey bodywear am 29. November 2011 der Stiftung der Friedensbotschafterin übergeben.
Waris Dirie schafft es vom somalischen Nomadenmädchen bis auf die großen Laufstege dieser Welt – und als erste schwarze Frau auf das Cover der „Vogue“. Ihre Biografie „Wüstenblume“ wird zum Weltbestseller und erfolgreich verfilmt. Aber auch auf der politischen Bühne macht Sie auf sich aufmerksam: als Aktivistin für Menschenrechte und Friedensbotschafterin der Afrikanischen Union. Sie gründet eine eigene Stiftung, die Desert Flower Foundation, und setzt sich aktiv für die Unabhängigkeit von Frauen in Afrika ein. Im Herbst 2010 steht Waris Dirie im Rahmen der Werbekampagne „Me, Myself and Mey“ für Mey bodywear vor der Kamera. Dabei wird die Idee einer gemeinsamen Charity-Aktion geboren, mit der auch Mey bodywear vollen Einsatz für die afrikanische Heimat des Topmodels zeigt.
Zusammen mit Waris Dirie ruft Mey bodywear die Charity-Aktion „Together for African Women“ ins Leben. Dafür wurden Schals in Äthiopien von Hand gewebt und ab Januar 2011 über den Mey Online-Shop, die Mey Marken Stores sowie über mehr als 200 engagierten Mey Fachhandelspartner zum guten Zweck verkauft. Schon die Herstellung der Schals sichert Arbeit und Einkommen von äthiopischen Frauen, darunter viele alleinerziehende Mütter. Und die 60.000 Euro Reinerlös aus dem Verkauf der Schals ermöglichen darüber hinaus weitere Projekte zur Aus- und Weiterbildung, zur medizinischen Versorgung und gesundheitlichen Aufklärung sowie zur Sicherung der bereits geschaffenen Arbeitsplätze.
Waris Dirie bedankt sich bei den MitarbeiterInnen, den Eigentümern und der Geschäftsleitung der Firma MEY für die großzügige Unterstützung der Kampagne TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN.
Congratulations! Last week Ana Babic and Julia Weber, two school graduates from Vienna/Austria, presented their graduation project „African Style“.
Both of them have read the book „Desert Flower“ by Waris Dirie and decided to dedicate their school-leaving project to FGM. The Desert Flower Foundation was invited to give a talk on FGM, Waris Dirie and the work of the Foundation. A charity-auction for the Desert Flower Foundation and our new project TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN generated 415 EUR. Good work girls! If you need any help with your project fighting FGM, feel free to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRATULATION! Ana Babic und Julia Weber haben in der vergangenen Woche in der HLTW13 (Bergheidengasse, Wien) unter dem Titel AFRICAN STYLE ihr Maturaprojekt präsentiert.
Nachdem beide das Buch WÜSTENBLUME gelesen hatten, beschlossen sie, ihr Maturaprojekt dem Thema „weibliche Genitalverstümmelung“ zu widmen. Die Desert Flower Foundation wurde eingeladen einen Vortrag über FGM, Waris Dirie und die Arbeit der Foundation zu halten. Neben einem köstlichen traditionellen somalischen Menü, gab es eine Versteigerung, deren Erlös (415 EUR) der Desert Flower Foundation und ihrem neuen Projekt TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN zu Gute kommt. Die Desert Flower Foundation bedankt sich für dieses außergewöhnliche Engagement. Falls auch ihr Unterstützung für ein Projekt zur Bekämpfung von FGM benötigt, könnt ihr uns gerne via email@example.com kontaktieren.