Archive | February, 2012

One FGM-patient a day in London´s hospitals

29 Feb

Recently published figures show real extent of FGM in Great Britain

LONDON – More than 2100 women and girls in London have sought hospital treatment for genital mutilation over the past six years. Therefore the extent of the suffering in Great Britain becomes obvious for the first time – meaning almost one woman a day. More than 700 of those needed to be admitted or have surgery. These figures were published recently by the London Evenings Standard on its website.
“FGM is a particular challenge for London where more girls are at risk than anywhere else and, just as we celebrate this city´s diversity, we must not shy away from difficult issues because of cultural sensitivities”, warns Jane Ellison, member of the British parliament.
The published figures show a peak of treatments in 2010: 442 women were seeking treatment because of female genital mutilation – a 30 per cent increase on 2007. Kit Melthouse, deputy mayor of London, explains that a report on FGM has already been commissioned which puts tackling the practice.
Experts warned that the true number of victims is far higher, with many going to clinics or suffering in silence. About 66 000 women and girls are thought to be affected in England and Wales.

Tunisians protest against the visit of FGM promoting cleric

28 Feb

 Egypt sheikh promotes circumcision during his visit in Tunisia.

TUNIS/CAIRO – Last weekend hundreds of Tunisians protested against the visit of Islamic cleric Wagdy Ghonem near the capital Tunis. According to the Egyptian news website, Ghonem angered Tunisians strongly by promoting female genital mutilation and calling for Islamic law to be applied in Tunisia. The crowd held signs reading “Ghonem must leave”, and “We don´t accept hate language”. Besides he was insulted as an “extremist” and “intruder”.

In a statement of the health ministry it is written that FGM is a “condemned practice that has nothing to do with our culture and society”. Although circumcision of girls is banned in Tunisia, conservatives, who believe the habit promotes virtue, do it anyway. Still many young girls bleed to death while getting cut.

Tunisian women, who were previously the most liberated of all in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, fear loss of those rights with the growing political Islam in the country. Amal Belhaj, editor of an online newspaper, says that a “growing culture in Tunisia is calling unveiled women ´whores´”. She called on democratic countries to support Tunisian women, who were never in such danger before.

Does FGM include genital piercings?

23 Feb

Debates about stricter legislation in Germany and Ireland for the protection of women.

BERLIN/DUBLIN – Last thursday the German parliament discussed the first time about a proposed law from the German party Alliance 90/The Greens, according to which female genital mutilation (FGM) would be jugded as grievous bodily harm. As the Headquater for Political Education reports on its website, the maximum penalty would be 15 years imprisonment, as far as the act is done purposly. Members of all parties voiced their support for the best possible protection of girls and women against FGM in Germany.
“Neither religion nor culture orders female genital mutilation”, says Monika Lazar from the Alliance. According to estimations of the women rights organization “Terre des Femmes” approximately 18 000 women in Germany are affected by FGM, 5000 more are in danger.
In the meantime the Irish parliament debates about suggested amendments in a proposed law to outlaw female genital mutilation (FGM). Accorrding to reports of the Irish Times the amendment would criminalise modern trends in cosmetic surgeries and genital piercings. “It is not the intention of the Bill to criminalise certain forms of genital piercings and cosmetic surgery for aesthetic purposes”, declares the Irish Minister for Health James Reilly. If the exemption is included, piercing and cosmetic surgery would be female genital mutilation.
With this statement Reilly responses to Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin´s critics, member of the Irish-republican party Sinn Féin, who asks for exemption of the permission to carry out mentioned procedures on women over the age of 18 years.
Ciara Conway, member of the Irish Labour party, comments the debate appropriately: “Legislation on its own, I´m afraid, isn´t going to eradicate it completely.”
The Bill now proceeds to report stage in the parliament.

Journalist reveals extent of FGM in Pakistan

22 Feb

Against all assumptions: It´s not a marginal issue

KARACHI – “This is one of the country´s best kept secrets”, writes the Pakistani journalist Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam in her blog on the website last week. There she is talking about female genital mutilation (FGM), a problem, which was not located in Pakistan in that extent until now. After long researches Moazzam discovered that FGM in the mainly Muslim country is mostly carried out by the Bohra Community, about 100 000 members, and other isolated communities in Pakistan. “I did not want to believe that it was happening in my country”, admits Moazzam.
The main problem seems to lie in the non-communication within practicing families. Furthermore: They consider it obligatory according to their faith. But the majority of Muslim scholars world over agree that FGM is not an obligatory custom in Islam. “It is one of those customs that existed in Arab culture prior to the coming of Islam. It is neither advised nor recommended”, confirms Mufti Muhammad Afzal Asari.

With greater awareness about this problem in Pakistan, Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam wants to pave the way for informed decisions. “It is time, yet again, to bring this subject out of the closet.”

Valerie Krb

FGM UK: Kein Training für Hebammen

21 Feb

Nach erschreckenden Ergebnissen bei einer Umfrage in Großbritannien werden Forderungen nach einer Ausbildung für Hebammen laut

LONDON – Laut einer aktuellen Umfrage ist das Bewusstsein über Genitalverstümmelung bei Hebammen in Großbritannien erschütternd niedrig. Wie die Nachrichtenagentur Press Association auf berichtet, habe ein Drittel der Hebammen demnach mit genital verstümmelten Frauen zu tun, doch nur ein Bruchteil davon sei dafür geschult. “Es besorgt mich zutiefst, dass so viele Hebammen in Großbritannien mit Genitalverstümmelung konfrontiert sind. Das Ausmaß in diesem Land ist besorgniserregend“, stellt Cathy Warwick, Direktorin des Royal College of Midwives, bestürzt fest.
Denn 66 000 Mädchen und Frauen sind in Großbritannien von Genitalverstümmelung betroffen. Und: Vielfach werden diese Fälle nicht detailliert festgehalten. Es sei dringend, erklärt Warwick weiter, sich mit diesem Problem auseinanderzusetzen. Sind es doch circa 24 000 Mädchen, die landesweit gefährdet sind.”Es darf keine Toleranz bei weiblicher Genitalverstümmelung geben und wir müssen tun, was wir können, um dieses Verbrechen weltweit zu stoppen.”

Midwives in UK not trained on FGM

21 Feb

After alarming results of a survey in UK – call to train midwives

LONDON – According to a new survey the awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) needs to raise among midwives in the UK. As the news agency Press Association reports on a third of midwives in the UK are confronted with FGM, but just a small number is trained for that issue. “It worries me greatly that so many UK midwives are seeing cases of FGM, and I am concerned about the scale and extent of it in this country”, declares Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, dismayed.
Namely 66 000 girls and women in the UK are affected by FGM. And: In many cases details are not collected.
Dealing with that issue has become even more pressing, explains Warwick further. With an estimate of up to 24 000 girls in the UK are at risk from FGM.
“We must take a zero tolerance line on FGM and do all we can to see it stopped in the UK and elsewhere.”

Kenya tops the list of 15 African countries which have majorly reduced cases of FGM

20 Feb

Kenya Tops drive against FGM

Summary: There is now a 25 percentage point differential in prevalence of the practice between Kenyans aged 15-19 and Kenyans aged 40-44, according to the report.

Kenya tops the list of 15 sub-Saharan countries that have drastically reduced cases of female circumcision, a UN report says.

The incidence of female circumcision fell by nearly 16 per cent in the country between 2003 and 2009, the UN Population Fund says in the report released on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting on Monday.

The survey also found that younger women in Kenya were abandoning the practice at a faster rate than those in the same age group in the 14 other countries taking part in a UN-sponsored anti-cutting programme.

“These findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women,” says UN Population Fund director Babatunde Osotimehin.

The report attributed the decline in the number of women undergoing circumcision to sustained public campaigns against FGM, the passing of the FGM Bill last year and the public renunciation of female cutting by communities that have hitherto practised it such as the Ilchamus and the Pokot.

President Kibaki signed the anti-FGM Bill into law in September last year. The law prohibits the practice, safeguards against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice of FGM.

Those found conducting the practice are liable to serve up to seven years in prison and fines of up to KShs500,000 (Shs14 million).

Furthermore, anyone who causes death in the process of carrying out female circumcision is liable to life imprisonment.



As reported by Daily Monitor

Another African country joins an initiative against FGM

17 Feb

Uganda joins global anti-FGM initiative

The government of Uganda has joined an international initiative backed the United Nations [UN] to end the ancient practice of female genital mutilation [FGM] which is practiced by the Sabiny people of eastern Uganda and many other communities across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

The initiative is being carried out in 15 African countries: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

It includes engaging all community groups, such as traditional and religious leaders, women, men and young girls themselves, in discussing the harmful effects of the practice, while highlighting that it is not a religious requirement. The programme also supports laws and policies against the practice.

A new United Nations report has shown that almost 2,000 communities across Africa abandoned female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) last year, prompting calls for a renewed global push to end this harmful practice once and for all.

According to the report issued by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the total number of communities renouncing FGM/C has now reached 8,000 over the last few years.

“…These encouraging findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C, which is observed on 6 February.

To mark the Day, Dr. Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake issued a joint statement renewing their commitment to put an end to the practice. “…We call on the global community to join us in this critical effort. Together, we can abolish FGM/C in one generation and help millions of girls and women to live healthier, fuller lives,” they stated.

FGM/C refers to a number of practices which involve cutting away part or all of a girl’s external genitalia. The practice – recognized globally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women – has no health benefits, causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences, according to UN agencies.

Each year, around three million girls and women – or some 8,000 girls each day – face the risk of mutilation or cutting. An estimated 130 million to 140 million girls and women have undergone the practice, mostly in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East.

The new report is prepared by the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme for the Acceleration of the Abandonment of FGM/C, which was set up in 2008 and tries to spur change through a culturally sensitive, human rights-based approach that promotes collective abandonment of the practice.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also added her voice to calls to the end the practice. “…Every government has an obligation to protect its citizens from such abuse. As we commemorate International Day of Zero Tolerance and remember those who have been harmed, we reaffirm our commitment to overturning deeply entrenched social norms and abolishing this practice.” the US top diplomat said.

She added that, “…all women and girls, no matter where they are born or what culture they are raised in, deserve the opportunity to realize their potential.”

Written by Ahmed Bogere Masembe

10th Anniversary of the Desert Flower Foundation

6 Feb

10th Anniversary of the Desert Flower Foundation


Dear friends and supporters,

After working as an UN Special ambassador since 1997, in 2002 I decided to found my own organization, the Desert Flower Foundation.

The main goal of the Foundation for me was to raise worldwide awareness on the issue of FGM through media coverage, to lobby against FGM with political leaders and other NGO´s and to make people aware that FGM does not only exist in Africa, parts of Asia and Middle East but also in the west, in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

As I knew from African communities in Europe, FGM is widespread and even practiced in these countries. I therefore decided to organize an undercover investigation with my team all over Europe.

It took us two years and we investigated in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Oslo, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona ad Lisbon. The result was shocking: At least 500,000 girls are affected in Europe and more young girls become victims of this torturous practice every day.

We met many girls who were victims of Female Genital Mutilation; we met religious leaders promoting FGM and religious leaders opposing FGM, leaders of African communities, African artists, human rights activists, representatives of NGO´s, politicians, social services, doctors and midwives in hospitals, teachers and nurses in kindergartens, women who performed FGM in Europe.

We attended court hearings against parents who mutilated their daughters in France. We met Doctor Foldes, who as the only surgeon performs reconstructive surgery of clitoris and labia for FGM victims in France.

We collected a research material of more than 4 000 pages and 350 hours of recordings.

Then, we produced a book about FGM called Desert Children and presented the collected material to the Council of Ministers in Brussels  in January 2006 to discuss direct measures against FGM. After our meeting, almost all countries implemented or strengthen their existing laws against FGM and initiative campaigns against FGM.

Since 2002, more than 3000 stories have been initiated by us on television, radio, in newspapers, magazines and on blogs.

We have launched the first social media campaign against FGM, STOP FGM NOW, which was awarded as the best Social Media Campaign 2010.

As an associate producer of the film “Desert Flower”, the Desert Flower Foundation consulted the production of the film in 2008 and supported the launch around the globe from 2009. Up today, the movie was successfully released in 34 countries.

Today, the film is used by many NGO´s from UN Women to our own Foundation to as an important tool to educate people and raise awareness about this cruel practice.

In our online consulting service,, we have received over 100,000 emails since 2002 and every one of them was answered.

Many of them were women affected or threatened by FGM, students preparing a presentation or dissertation about FGM and organizations that wish to initiate their own campaign against FGM.

Today, the staff of our Foundation consists of nine people developing new campaigns, and handling the thousands of requests and the Foundation is currently mentioned 1,180,000 times on Google.

In 2011, we decided to launch a new campaign and strategy TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN. We are convinced that women have to come out of poverty first, before eradicating the problem of FGM in Africa. Therefore in 2012, we started investing in education and vocational training, especially for women.

We support social investments to create an income for African women; because we believe that it is the most important to give women income and empower them so they are able to take their own decisions about their bodies and the bodies of their daughters. You will read more about this on our




Our Blog

YouTube Channel



Waris Dirie



10 Jahre Desert Flower Foundation

6 Feb

10 Jahre Desert Flower Foundation

Nach dem ich seit 1997 als UN Sonderbotschafterin gegen FGM arbeitete entschloss ich mich 2002 meine eigene Organisation die Desert Flower Foundation zu gründen.

Mein Ziel war es, weltweit gegen dieses Verbrechen Aufmerksamkeit und eine Lobby bei Politikern und anderen NGO´s gegen FGM zu schaffen.

Vor allem war es mir wichtig zu informieren, dass FGM nicht nur in Afrika, Asien, dem Mittleren Osten praktiziert wird, sondern auch in Europa, USA, Kanada, Australien und Neuseeland. Wie ich aus den Afrikanischen Communities immer wieder erfahren habe ist FGM in Europa weit verbreitet.

Deshalb  entschied ich mich 2002 verdeckte Ermittlungen mit meinem Team in Europa durchzuführen. Wir benötigten 2 Jahre und recherchierten in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Oslo, Berlin, München, Wien, Zürich, Genf, Mailand, Rom, Madrid, Barcelona und Lisabon.

Das Resultat  schockierte uns.

Mindestens 500.000 Frauen und Mädchen, die Opfer von FGM geworden sind leben in Europa. Und jedes Jahr sind tausende Mädchen von diesem grausamen Verbrechen in Europa bedroht.

Wir trafen Mädchen die in Europa genital verstümmelt wurden. Wir trafen Religionsführer, die FGM befürworteten und andere die dagegen kämpften. Wir trafen viel Menschen aus den afrikanischen Communities, Afrikanische KünstlerInnen, MenschenrechtsaktivistInnen, SozialarbeiterInnen, PolitikerInnen, ÄrztInnen, Hebammen in Spitälern, LehrerInnen und KindergärtnerInnen und afrikanische Frauen, die in Europa FGM praktizierten.

Wir nahmen an Gerichtsverfahren in Paris teil gegen Beschneiderinnen und Eltern, die ihre Töchter in Frankreich genitalverstümmeln ließen und trafen Doktor Foldes, der der einzige Chirurg in Europa war, der Klitoris und Labia von Genitalverstümmelungsopfern wieder herstellte.

Wir sammelten 4.000 Seiten Informationsmaterial und 350 Stunden Ton- und Filmmaterial.

2005 produzierten wir über diese Recherche das Buch „Schmerzenskinder“ und präsentierten 2006 die Resultate dem Ministerrat der EU im Brüssel. Wir diskutierten mit den MinisterInnen Maßnahmen gegen FGM in Europa.

Nach dem Treffen wurden in vielen europäischen Ländern Gesetze gegen FGM erlassen oder verschärft.

Seit 2002 wurden von der Desert Flower Foundation weltweit mehr als 3.000 Beiträge für TV und Radiostationen, Magazine und Tageszeitungen sowie Internetblogs initiiert und begleitet. Wir haben 2010 die erste Social Media Kampagne gegen FGM lanciert, die 2010 mit dem Social Media Award ausgezeichnet wurde. Als Koproduzentin des Films WÜSTENLUME hat die Desert Flower Foundation 2008 die Filmproduktion fachlich beraten und ab 2009 die Veröffentlichung des Filmes international mit Medienarbeit unterstützt. Bis heute ist WÜSTENBLUME in 34 Ländern erfolgreich angelaufen.

Der Film wird von zahlreichen NGO’s von UN Women bis zur Desert Flower Foundation als wichtiges Instrument zur Aufklärungsarbeit gegen FGM eingesetzt.

Mehr als 100.000 Menschen nutzten das Beratungsservice und jeder erhielt Antwort. Viele Frauen, die von Genitalverstümmelung bedroht waren und viele die Opfer wurden haben sich bei uns gemeldet, aber auch SchülerInnen und StudentInnen, die Informationen für Facharbeiten, Präsentationen und Dissertationen benötigten.

Heute arbeiten 9 MitarbeiterInnen für die Desert Flower Foundation, entwickeln neue Strategien und Kampagnen und bearbeiten tausende Anfragen. Und bei Google finden sich 1.180.000 Einträge über unsere Arbeit.

2011 entschieden wir uns für eine neue Strategie und starteten die Kampagne TOGETHER FOR AFRICAN WOMEN in der Überzeugung, dass Armut in Afrika zuerst bekämpft werden muss, bevor man FGM langfristig ausrotten kann. Deswegen investieren wir nun in Bildung und Berufstraining, vor allem für Frauen.

Wir unterstützen soziale Investments in Afrika, um für Frauen Arbeit und Einkommen zu schaffen. Denn nur so schaffen sie es unabhängig zu werden und über ihren eigenen Körper und den Körper ihrer Töchter selbst bestimmen zu können.

Ihr werdet 2012 mehr darüber lesen können auf unserer Webseite, auf Facebook, Twitter, unserem Blog und unserem neuen Youtube Channel.


Waris Dirie