Momentum in movement to fight female genital mutilation [Archives:2005/820/Health]

February 28 2005

By Emad al-Saqqaf
Taiz Bureau
[email protected]

A growing push against female genital mutilation (FGM, or female circumcision) has been building in various parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

The only country where the genital mutilation is noticeably decreasing is the Central African Republic, where the practice was not widespread.

A conference on female genital mutilation was held in Djibouti recently, supported by the UNDP, UNICEF and several other organizations. The conference was attended by Mrs. Khadhra'a Mahmoud Heed, wife of Djibouti's president, and head of the Djibouti Women's National Union. At the beginning of the conference, Djibouti's first lady delivered a speech reviewing national plans and programs in this respect and urging to uproot this tradition.

“Djibouti's hosting of the conference is an inspiration for all Djibouti women who display their commitment towards the social effort to eradicate this habit and raise Djibouti women to the status they deserve,” she said, adding that genital mutilation threatens the lives of Djibouti girls.

She reminded the audience of the teachings of our great religion, which grants women their rights fully, opening for them the doors to knowledge. She also pointed out that Muslim women have been allowed to participate in different aspects of public and social life, to raise their status. The first lady spoke out against social conditions that prevent the furthering of women's rights.

Djibouti's Minister of Health, Mohammed Ali Kamel requested participants at the conference to suggest recommendations and solutions to the problem.

The UNDP Coordinator mentioned that many governmental and international bodies have been fighting this practice and its effects on females since the 1950s. “The Women Committee in the Economic Council has focused on this aspect by means of many conferences, and symposia. Moreover, the UN Women's Committee signed many agreements with a number of countries to take necessary procedures to remove this violation of women's health.”

Many African countries ratified the Maputo Protocol banning FGM, and Libya, Rwanda, Guinea, Sanghal, and Nigeria recently became signatories. At the conclusion of the conference, Djibouti Prime Minister signed Maputo Protocol.

Djibouti's Minister of Endowments announced a summary of scholars' statements on genital mutilation, which state that female genital mutilation is not permitted by the Islamic Shari'a. He added that the mutilation deprives women from enjoying sex within marriage. The book pointed out that women have the same right to be sexually satisfied as men do, and that mutilation defaces the creation of God.