Archive | June, 2012

UK: First Young People Led National Conference on FGM

28 Jun

BRISTOL – On July 14th the UK’s first ever conference on FGM led by young people will take place at the University of Bristol. The conference has been organized by Integrate Bristol, which has won this year´s „Young Voice Award“ for the FGM movie „Silent Scream.“

The organization helps with the integration and adaption of young people and children who have arrived from other countries and cultures. Integrate Bristol runs projects that help teenagers to develop their skills so that they can actively participate in society and feel a part of the community they have joined.

The conference aims to educate health, education and legal professionals on the devastating impact of FGM and how they can help prevent it. The conference will also act as a facilitator for young people from across the country to come together for the first time and discuss the wider implications of FGM and the current political indifference to the issue.

In the meantime, the organisers of this ground breaking conference on Female Genital Mutilation claim that politicians are too scared of being called racist and won’t tackle fundamental failures in the child protection system, which are putting thousands of girls at risk of abuse every year. They claim, that unlike many other European countries, the UK is failing to tackle FGM and as a result girls are being mutilated with impunity. They are calling for more robust warning and control systems to be put in place to flag up vulnerable children if they are taken out of the country.

For more information about the Conference, visit:

Liberian effort to end FGM runs into fierce opposition

21 Jun

Despite the massive physical and psychological consequences of female genital mutilation, the practice finds many supporters in the African country

MONROVIA – “My friend was 19 when they carried her away,” said Cecilia Samujlah. The mother of four children. “She didn´t want to go. She was crying. She never came back.” The kidnappers later apologized to the parents of the dead girl. By then it was too late. “They said the devil ate her,” said Samujlah.

Her friend was a victim of FGM, a triatitional rite of passage that still is practised by thousands of rural women in liberia in secret rural schools.


Now Liberia has announced plans to halt the practice, a move that could have huge symbolic value as a model for Africa – if it can overcome the fierce resistance from powerful forces here.

“Government is saying: ‘This needs to stop,’ ” said Liberia’s Minister of Gender and Development, Julia Duncan-Cassell. She asked Liberians to “desist” from female circumcision. “Government wants to respect the belief of the people but, at the same time, is telling them not to infringe on the right of someone else.


Yet, despite this rhetoric, the government is making little effort to impose a ban, and it has admitted it has no deadline for eliminating the practice.

The practice is usually performed by a secret organization, the Sande Society, which operates “bush schools” across Liberia to teach traditional beliefs on marriage and motherhood. The society is a leading cultural force in many villages, supported by influential groups such as the National Traditional Council.

Ella Coleman, official in the council, says she doubts that female circumcision will be banned without extensive consultations first. She insists that the bush schools are completely voluntary. “You see children as young as seven walking into the bush,” she said. “Nobody is holding their hand. Nobody is forcing them. This is our tradition, and this is how we live.”


Phyllis Nguma-Kimba, a Liberian activist with the National Association on Traditional Practices, is one of those who campaigns against female genital cutting. She goes door-to-door in villages, holds meetings and educates women about the risks. She has rescued girls from the bush schools, and she has pursued legal action against those who kidnapped girls to force them into circumcision.

Today, she said, the ritual has become a source of power and money for those who run the bush schools. Girls must pay up to $70 each for two weeks in the school, and circumcision is considered part of their initiation. “I’m hoping and praying that it will be banned,”  Nguma-Kimba said.


Her campaign against FGM has made her a target for death threats. Her office was repeatedly vandalized and her house mysteriously burned down. But she vowed to continue her campaign. “It shows that we are getting somewhere. It only gives me encouragement and the courage to keep going.”


Source:, 20.06.2012

FGM Kurdistan: The new proves difficult to implement

20 Jun

Despite an existence of law against female genital mutilation, the numbers of victims have not reduced

In June 2011, Iraqi Kurdistan passed a law which criminalised FGM and domestic violence, but one year on, activists remain frustrated with its patchwork implementation, Middle East Online reported on Monday. “You cannot find that the numbers (for FGM) have reduced because of this law, because no one knows about it”, said Suzan Aref, head of the Women’s Empowerment Organisation.

In what is considered a conservative society even by Middle East standards, the passage of the law last year was hailed by rights groups and NGOs as a major step forward after years of struggle. The law punishes physical, sexual and psychological assault committed within the family, creates conditions for the protection of victims and mandates the establishment of specialised courts. And: It also carries penal and financial punishments for those who promote or practice female genital mutilation.

Another reason for the lack of implementation: Judges and religious leaders have stood in the way of the law’s full implementation, according to Ramziya Zana, head of the Arbil-based Gender Studies and Information Centre Organisation. “Most judges think this is harmful for the family“, she further stated.

FGM is widespread in Kurdistan. According to a report of the German NGO Wadi, over 72 percent of women in the region’s two biggest provinces were victims of female genital mutilation, with the rate rising to almost 100 percent in some areas.

Pakhshan Zangana, Secretary General of the High Council for Women’s Affairs, a Kurdish government agency, remained optimistic: „”It is new in a society like our’s — anything against traditional culture, we cannot measure within months,” she said.

Reconstructive surgery helps restore sexual pleasure after FGM

14 Jun

In a new study, researchers found that new surgical technique can help easing the pain and improve sexual pleasure of FGM-victims.

PARIS – Pioneering reconstructive surgery has brought new hope to women worldwide who have suffered the pain and sexual desolation of female genital mutilation: According to a new report published in The Lancet, the new surgical technique, developed by the French doctor Pierre Foldès and his colleagues, can help easing the pain and improve sexual pleasure of FGM-victims, reported the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics yesterday.

“The real news is that it´s feasible to give back pleasure, feasible to reconstruct the clitoris, and possible to give women back their lost identities”, says Foldès. The doctors in France performed the surgery on almost 3,000 women. Of the 866 women who attended the one- year follow-up visit, 821 patients reported an improvement – or at least no worsening – of pain, while 815 stated they now had improved clitoral pleasure.

Because internal clitoral tissue survives the mutilation, the surgeons were able to trim away scar tissue and build a new clitoris that would protrude in a normal way. “However, women with FGM rarely have access to reconstructive surgery to improve their lives and in most developed and all developing countries, surgery remains prohibitively expensive”, explained Beatrice Cuzin, who led the research.

About 150 million women worldwide have suffered FGM and are living with numerous effects on physical, sexual and psychological health.

Shocking news: Female genital mutilation is practiced also in South Africa

13 Jun

Even though the World Health Organization does not include South Africa in the list of FGM practicing countries, it has recently been reported that it is practiced among communities living in the north-east of the country. 

FGM is one of the cultural practises embedded amongst the Venda community in the north-east of South Africa. At around 8 weeks or less after childbirth, Venda women undergo a cruel traditional ceremony called muthuso during which vaginal flesh of the mother is cut by a traditional healer. The cut flesh is then mixed with black powder and oil and applied on the child’s head to prevent goni (described as a swelling on the back of a child’s head). The Venda people believe that goni can only be cured using the vaginal flesh of the child’s mother.

Women who experienced this procedure stated that they bleed excessively after the ceremony but have nowhere to be treated as there is no postnatal care in Venda. The women therefore use traditional medicine which sometimes leads to death because of insufficient treatment.

Venda community also practises FGM as initiation for girls into womanhood. After the cut, these girls are branded with a mark on their thighs as evidence of having attended the procedure.

Moreover, migrants in South Africa including Sudanese, Nigerian, Somali and other African communities continue practising FGM. The cutters perform the cut illegally in homes, often despite the complaints from the girls, who are often extremely traumatised following the practice.

The World Health Organisation does not list South Africa as a country where FGM is practised and there is no acknowledgment by the government that FGM exists in South Africa.

At most, South Africa enacted secondary legislation which prohibits FGM and the government has engaged in initiatives to eradicate FGM, for example national research and sensitization workshops where FGM is prevalent.