Archive for the ‘Geneva’ Category

GA_FGM_UNGeneva May 2015
FGM News update
Elisabeth Wilson, Co-founder of the Global Alliance against FGM (GA-FGM), and Canadian component of this Canadian-German initiative made this announcement today:
“Since May 11, 2015, The United Nations Director General, His Excellency Michael Møller officially supports our awareness campaign against FGM called YES YOU CAN SAY NO-PICTURE IT
You may consult Facebook page (UN Geneva), twitter and flicker accounts and the United Nations official website in New-York for more information.
As you may have already observed there are Canadian First Nations leaders proudly stepping into uncharted territory. In assisting GA-FGM they’ve heard with their heart, their sisters of the southern hemisphere cry for help and responded to it. Even though they themselves by their own tradition are not directly impacted by FGM.
In picture above, UNOG’s DG (middle), the co-founders of the GAFGM,  Holger Postulart and Elizabeth Wilson (right), 2 of GAFGM Goodwill Ambassadors, Captain Christine de St Genois GA-FGM’s Ambassador to the United Nations and Pat “Halfmoon” Bruderer,  GAFGM’s Ambassador in Canada (left). Pat is the first Aboriginal woman to step into the cause.
Also, since Februrary 5, 2015, Great Chief Constant Awashish (PQ), became the first Aboriginal Chief to support the global fight against FGM.
Elisabeth Wilson is the Director of Communications. #GAFGM is Global Alliance Against FGM Website is www.global-alliance-fgm.org

Note: In French, GAFGM is AGFGM Alliance Globale contre les Mutilations génitales féminines

 

May 1, 2015 – Dr. Morissanda Kouyate’s statement here.

The last two weeks of April 2015 saw the ground break in the global fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The regressive and regrettable article in The Atlantic, entitled ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised‘, is causing a major uproar on Twitter.

From the hidden depths of the #EndFGM twitter movement to the ears of Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation is an outcry of complaint. Melinda Gates is said to have wholly endorsed Olga Khazan’s article in a misjudged tweet and this is continuing to reverberate across Twitter and perhaps understandably so. FGM survivors (using hashtags #NoFGM #EndFGM) are gobsmacked by The Atlantic publication’s language-usage for a start.

An angry firestorm across twitter explained it was felt that the content of the article was more than questionable. It was believed to have had a hand in glamorizing FGM.

According to the undisputed definition by the World Health Organisation, FGM is all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-therapeutic reasons. (Including the Clitoris and inner two labia lips). Artistic rendition here.

All this ‘fuss’ has had the effect of galvanizing efforts on Twitter for a united front which presses for FGM Education specifically in the U.S.

We can find comfort in that the United Nations 2012 Official FGM Resolution is unequivocal. The goal is total eradication of FGM including any and all the efforts to justify it. Spearheading much of the unified response is one of the movers and shakers on the anti-FGM front. Hibo Wardere is a formidable anti-FGM activist based in UK London. She is FGM coordinator for Waltham Forest and a mediator-educator. Integrate Bristol Charity @FGMSilentScream and thousands of others in Europe, the U.S. and Canada also present themselves in solidarity, taking the bull by the horns as the United Nations has done, tackling the practice as an FGM with no excuses.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists @RCObsGyn has issued a statement about their concerns over The Atlantic article (see end of this post for details.

Having covered the subject and worked in the field myself, I too chimed in. Re-coining and revitalizing the term, anthro-apologists, shouting out, saying No to Anthro/Apologists, this very second!  Please see a more detailed discussion here.  Credit: Hilary Burrage FGM not FGC-FC - image credit Hilary Burrage Blog

I too join in challenging any apologist-anthropologist bleating on about the female genital cutting (FGC) as female circumcism (FC) and so-called ‘choice’. It’s Female Genital-Mutilation for goodness sake.

FGM is everyone’s fight. Here is the battle line:

On the damaging and poisonous message that the article-titled ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised’ communicates – The Atlantic was advised to issue a response.

Activists ask rather directly:

Is The Atlantic guilty of a subterfuge?

Condoning the use of overt apologetic language…defending FGM as circumcism…describing it as ‘choice’…holding water for the ‘choice’ defense… participating in the antic by publishing nonsense.

Is one of the most insidious of human-rights violations when the mainstream media posits the practice of FGM as a ‘choice’ and calls it cutting and circumcism?

In my view, yes. No worst evil than condoning the practice in this sneaky way.

Why did a longstanding, high-currency American publication in Washington DC brazenly publish disinformation? Sheer ignorance or something more sinister?

The UN Resolution against FGM passed in 2012 and the breath of the world-wide movement is moving against justifying slicing off girl’s private parts. Using ‘choice’ rhetoric as means of suggesting, a deeper-understanding, is beyond the pale.

When you click the Twitter share-button for The Atlantic article, it then takes you to this sentence, “What many people don’t understand about [Female Circumcism] sic”. A nuance, noticed by careful watchers concerned about the title of article in the first place; which still remains as ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised despite survivor’s protestations.

Please also read my 2014 article “We are the ones who can’t be ignored” on #GAFGM #AntiFGMGlobal global activists and the migration of FGM on Western soil and my 2013 UN Special Magazine article about the global context of the UN 2012 Resolution, UN Special.

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Update: Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté is one of the signatories for 2012 UN Resolution. He is Executive Director of Inter-African Committee and a UN Expert. Given his strong diplomatic mediation skills and connections internationally, it made sense that the details of the uproar about The Atlantic article were communicated to him. He agreed to make a formal statement. Dr. Morissanda Kouyate’s statement is also included here below. Since then, The Atlantic responded in agreeing to post a blog re: concerns. Contact @hilaryburrage for more details on what was agreed.

Tweet to The Atlantic - follow up on Dr. Morissanda's statement_May 1-2015 Dr. Morissanda Kouyate _IAC - response to The Atlantic Article _2015

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

– @RCObsGyn

Joint statement on story about women choosing to be circumcised

News 23 April 2015

The Intercollegiate FGM Group, along with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) have read the article on why some women choose to be circumcised published on 8 April 2015. We are extremely concerned by the way FGM is treated in the article.

While we welcome new social scientific research into the complex reasons why FGM occurs across societies, since it helps us to better understand the phenomena and thereby enable us to prevent it, articles such as this are retrograde.

This is our collective position:

  • We agree that FGM is child abuse and a severe form of violence against women and girls.
  • We agree that FGM is a violation of the rights of the child and a violation of the rights of women and girls.
  • We agree that the medicalisation of FGM must stop.

We know that in some communities, FGM occurs because it is regarded as a tradition, a rite of passage. On the surface, it may appear that the girls themselves willingly subject themselves to be circumcised, with their families’ blessing.

However, this does not make the practice acceptable. It is wrong to suggest that children can chose to undergo FGM. Many of these girls are underage and therefore they are not in a position to give informed consent to a practice that has lifelong physical and psychological consequences. Similarly, they may be under intense social pressure to have FGM and may also be unaware of what the procedure truly entails and the long term impact on their sexual and reproductive health.

There is no compelling argument to excuse FGM. The long-term physical, psychological and emotional trauma from FGM (not fully addressed in the article, some of which are transgenerational) which healthcare professionals and the women themselves are only too aware of, mean that there are no benefits but significant harm attached to the practice.

Notes – The Intercollegiate FGM Group comprises the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) and Equality Now.

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Diane’s suggested links to peruse in conjunction with the above FGM News update

UN 2012 United Nations Official FGM Resolution https://indydianewalsh.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/resolution-unga-english2.pdf

Global context: post by highly respected anti FGM activist Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté, one of the signatories http://www.morissanda.com/mgffgm.htm

Florence Ali now sadly has died; worked with Inter-African Committee with Dr. Kouyté. Highlights the steep uphill battle fighting FGM and the apologists. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/fgm-in-ghana-what-local-african-organisations-are-doing-to-eliminate-female-genital-mutilation-8537898.html

International-migration factor: FGM in Western-countries

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10980268/FGM-affects-137000-women-in-England-and-Wales-reveals-shocking-new-study.html

(DW coverage)

UN Geneva/New York http://www.unspecial.org/2013/02/change-the-fate-of-girls-it%E2%80%99s-in-our-hands/ covers

U.S.A. context https://indydianewalsh.com/2014/11/17/we-are-the-ones-that-cant-be-ignored/ U.S.A context

University of Geneva first University FGM Chair 2015 http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/female-genital-mutilation_university-of-geneva-chair-to-fight-fgm/41256858

Canada http://thelasource.com/en/2014/03/03/canadian-artists-at-the-un-say-no-to-fgm/

With special emphasis now on Western soil, the UK is said to be leading the movement: “Tackling FGM in the UK: Intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting” provides overview https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/news/tackingfgmuk.pdf

The strongest leadership we’ve seen to date; the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists allies with FGM activists/survivors. The ill-considered article in The Atlantic  ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised gets a response which can’t be ignored. Read statement above or at @RCObsGyn on twitter.

Say No! to Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation is a heinous crime still perpetrated against girls.

On February 6 2011, throughout the day, the entire world is being asked to chant in unison a resounding, “NO to FGM!” with all activists against female genital mutilation.

This is the date marking the 8th International Day on Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Collectively we can honour the global concerted efforts which rarely get the media attention however represent both practical and existential struggles against FGM (as it is labelled for short).

Being that the 6th of February falls on a Sunday the UN-sponsored meeting backed by the World Health Organization will take place in Geneva, Monday 9 am Feb 7 at “Le Centre International de Conférences” (CICG).

It has been a long-time wait from many activists’ point of view, but it is encouraging news as the proud two-pronged theme for 2011 is finally emerging:

“Building Bridges between Europe and Africa” with emphasis on “Engaging media” and “Engaging governments”, an indispensable factor (say the experts) to being able to reach zero tolerance to FGM. The Inter-African Committee is scheduled to take the floor at Monday’s Geneva meeting issuing this statement in advance from IAC Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

“The objective of celebrating February 6 is to call International, Regional, National and Community attention to the efforts needed to free women and girls from the adverse tradition of female genital mutilation and to accelerate action towards its total elimination”.

“Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a violation of basic human rights principles, as stipulated in Article 24.3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), other International and Regional instruments, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Relating to the Rights of Women in Africa, (Article 5) and the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, 2004″.

The main actors on the anti-FGM world front have traditionally been The Inter-African Committee, UNFPA, The UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF and so it makes perfect sense it is these organizations (said ‘branches of the UN’ that have been designated hosts for this UN-sponsored meeting.

There is formal media scheduled to be represented as well, including, Afromedianet. Equally, European Network-FGM will speak in a session.

This initiative signals to the whole world that concrete genuine steps are being taken to solidify the resources for anti-FGM initiative within government led by the United Nations.

For far too long FGM has been pushed under the carpet. That’s been the sentiment of many activists who have struggled to raise awareness over more than 40 years. 

Things are different now. For the first time in history chief world-actors alongside prominent activists have agreed to band together.

The work of all anti-FGM organizations across the world have been emboldened by the current UN culture, chiefly the sentiments of Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon stating unequivocally, in September 2010 UN-New Work Meeting, his gender equality UN commitment (Diane Walsh, Vancouver Observer).

Coupled with this hopeful UN promise we’ve seen the emergence of the agency of UN Women on the scene, with a new website out in January 2011. Of course the impressive former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet which SG Ban Ki-moon himself appointed at the helm says a lot:

The Executive Director/Under-Secretary General of UN Women is designed to enable for a different climate to flourish, an anti-FGM policy commitment in global terms.

It is clear to anyone looking in, this year’s International Day is significant in that the overall strategy is upped in ranks and status with, as a political player, distinctly UN-Women driving in the shoulder and putting its weight behind the anti-FGM cause in a global capacity. UN-Women is seemingly poised to take the lead on the #AntiFGMGlobal narrative.

The formidable contribution of The AHA Foundation, No Peace without Justice, Ban FGM and FGM NETWORK are obvious central players as well adding to the current and overall political fervour galvanizing support behind ending the practice around the world.

TOSTAN out of Senegal, The Orchid Project (Davos winner) and with on-going endorsement from Nick Kristof of the New York Times and The Waris Dirie Foundation are also concurrently core developing partnerships with the same common goal of eradication.

As like UNICEF, many NGOs operate in tandem with the mandate of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices, whose personnel then work with several NGOs on the ground in Africa e.g. New Vision and Reach. By no means is this above list exhaustive.

Moreover, the commitment to eradicate FGM is exemplified by current initiatives taken place at a high-governmental level, both, nationally and internationally. These include: a global Appeal to Ban FGM worldwide underscoring efforts to bring forth an actual UN Resolution into the UN General Assembly at some point in the near future. This would seek a ban on the practice of female genital mutilation world-wide and would carry the weight of international law against torture behind it and along with it the goal to make the very UN Resolution— ultimately—the 9th— of the 8 Millennium Goals.

There is reason to have hope.

A draft-copy resolution is in the works spearheaded by the Inter-African Committee, a giant, in the anti-FGM movement. As it’s currently endorsed by UN headquarters in Geneva, Donor Working Group and Global Alliance against FGM(GAFGM), a German-Canadian group now operational out of Geneva, we’re seeing several federating efforts.

Using knowledge-sharing, a Global Portal is being developed by #GAFGM with the aim to centralize all FGM-based resources. In addition to providing an electronic-hub for monitoring situations on the ground it will also provide immediate media-outreach. Whilst it is in its infancy it is nevertheless already a one-stop click resource — able to view all resources pooled around FGM in one website — and with ability to add to it. And so, as a result going forward, mobilization and communications strategies between Europe, Africa and the Middle East can be ever enhancing. This is allowing for new partnerships and is evolving every day, to be posted on the portal.

GAFGM founder Elisabeth Wilson adds her voice to the struggle:

There is neither danger nor contradiction in the varying approaches to eradicating FGM which include legal and political and cultural. These can include but are not limited to strategies helping communities with unlearning harmful-to-girl cultural theory methodologies; sensitization and education; alternative employment measures for excisors; many different ways to fight FGM but always complementary” (translation from French).

Indeed there are reports of successful law enforcement and arrest of exisors making the criminalization of FGM an accepted paradigm and an integral part of any overall sensitization strategy.

In Geneva, this spring, Ambassadors from Burkina Faso, Egypt, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Kenya, Ethiopia will be heard speaking at session. Those African delegations (Nigeria rumored) to the UN who opposed going forward to take these greater steps [becoming clear] at the UN September 2010 New York conference have been successfully marginalized in part on account of the tremendous unification of mobilization efforts by the aforementioned plethora of organizations working on the front-line. Importantly 2011 at UN Geneva is a synchronization of strategies between Europe and Africa.

It is only through world-wide awareness of the on-going existence of FGM that true eradication can begin to take place.

As one Global Woman anonymous anti-FGM activist says,

“If you know something, get in touch. It only takes a tweet, email, or a FB post, to get involved. Know that excisors practicing FGM (anyone condoning, lending credence to babies, little girls and womens’ genitals being cut and sliced in societies of fear, coercion and confusion are under our watchful eye. It’s clear that the future can and will be better. If you see FGM happening, speak out. Don’t be a witness and do nothing”.

Tips: during the Zero Tolerance Day, please take the time to watch these two videos, which includes work and presentation by Ban FGM Campaign. Share with friends. Messages for UN Women – in pictures https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2011/mar/02/women?CMP=share_btn_tw&page=with:img-22#img-22‬

https://www.flickr.com/photos/guardianonflickr/5476975350‬

https://www.flickr.com/photos/guardianonflickr/5476975426

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKdTIx_-_I8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApRkNqm6UFE&feature=related

Please note, Twitter hash-tag is: #FGM, #NOTOFGM, #STOPFGM #Feb6 #AntiFGMGlobal

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For more information and March 2011 UN Geneva #GAFGM symposium article on the subject of anti-FGM activism, contact: mediageode at yahoo dot com