FGM

Liberia: Enact a law banning FGM as a matter of urgency

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 Jun 26
Update Date: 
2013 Mar 12
Update: 

MARCH 12, 2013 UPDATE: On 17 January 2013, Ruth Berry Peal's lawyer, Deddeh Wilson, informed Equality Now that she had filed a motion requesting the court to dismiss the defendant’s appeal of their jail sentence for failure to complete the appeal process. On 24 January 2013, the court dismissed the appeal case on grounds that 'the defendants did not file an approved bill of exceptions or did not secure the approval of the trial judge on the purported bill of exceptions.' On 26 February, the court issued a letter commanding the Sheriff of Montserrado to arrest the defendants.

Although Ruth has finally gotten justice for being forcibly mutilated, it has not been easy for her, as she continues to receive threats.  Mrs Speare, director of Women NGO Secretariat Liberia (WONGOSOL), stated that social and cultural circumstances in Liberia do not allow girls and women to oppose FGM or to escape, though girls sometimes resort to running away and hiding due to the lack of laws to protect them from the practice.  Ruth has been advised by the gender ministry to relocate to Monrovia but is reluctant to do so because her husband and children still live in Bomi, Liberia. Therefore, we are calling on the Liberian government to support and protect Ruth, as well as to build on indications made by the Minister for Internal Affairs in 2011 to enact and enforce a law banning FGM as a matter of urgency.


 

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What You Can Do: 

>> TAKE ACTION NOW! Please join Equality Now and our Liberian partners, Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) and Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), in calling on Liberian authorities to:

  • Ensure that Ruth Berry Peal’s case is swiftly and justly concluded
  • Ensure the enforcement of  the government’s suspension of Sande FGM activities
  • Honor Liberia’s international and regional human rights commitments by enacting and enforcing comprehensive legislation against FGM, as well as supporting educational outreach to relevant communities and local chiefs on the harms of FGM

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf    
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 644 4696 
Email: ebfasama@emansion.gov.lr
etoles@emansion.gov.lr

Hon. Christiana H. Tah
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box  0123
Ashmun Street   
Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 669 7205
Email: ctah1@aol.com

Hon Julia Duncan Cassell
Minister for Gender and Development
P.O. Box 10-1375
110 UN Drive & Gurley Street
1000 Monrovia 10
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 651 6434  
Email: libgenderminister@gmail.com

Hon Blamo Nelson
Minister of Internal Affairs
Executive Mansion Ground
Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 651 3358 
Email: mgaryeazon@yahoo.com
http://www.mia.gov.lr

Letters: 

Dear [   ]

I welcome recent steps by the government to suspend Sande FGM activities including a notice issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to all counties directing that all Sande activities be shut down and indications that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Justice will work on a draft FGM law. However, I am alarmed by recent developments, where the government has so far failed to take action, including:

In March 2012, journalist Mae Azango was forced into hiding after publishing a story on FGM. Members of the Sande society have threatened to forcibly subject her to FGM.

In May 2012, more than 750 girls, believed to be encouraged by Sande members, underwent FGM in the Nimba County despite the Ministry of Internal Affairs notice to stop Sande activities.

Despite President Sirleaf’s pledge to make women’s rights and health a national priority in Liberia it is worrisome to note the lack of government intervention in the above-mentioned cases. In addition, I am concerned by media reports on the Minister of Information indicating that the government has no plans to end FGM. This lack of a unified stance by government officials undermines the efforts the government is making to end FGM.

I urge you to ensure that the government’s suspension of Sande FGM activities is enforced. Furthermore, please honor Liberia’s international and regional human rights commitments by enacting and enforcing comprehensive legislation against FGM as well as supporting educational outreach to relevant communities and local chiefs on the harms of FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Equality Now calls on the United States Senate & House of Representatives to Pass the Girls Protection Act

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2011 Dec 12

In May 2010, Equality Now issued an urgent alert calling on the United States House of Representatives to pass the “Girls Protection Act” (H.R. 5137) co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). The legislation aimed at strengthening the 1996 federal law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and would prohibit the act of transporting a girl abroad in order to subject her to FGM. However, this Act did not pass in Congress last year. It was reintroduced by Rep. Crowley and Rep.

What You Can Do: 

We urge both the United States House of Representatives and Senate to take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. We also urge that culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs are put in place to protect girls living in the US from FGM. In this regard, Equality Now urges its Women’s Action Network members in the United States to call upon their members of Congress and Senators to cosponsor the pending legislation in both the House and Senate.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Click here to find your Senators’ contact information. Click here to find your Congressperson’s contact information.

Please keep Equality Now updated on your work and send copies of any replies you receive to: info@equalitynow.org

Letters: 

Dear Senator:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the common situation where girls are taken from the U.S. to their parents’ countries of origin to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is considered a severe human rights violation and the World Health Organization classifies the practice as a reflection of deep rooted inequality between the sexes and an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, which takes place throughout Africa, certain countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. According to an analysis of 2000 U.S. census data conducted by the African Women’s Health Center (AWHC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, approximately 228,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk for FGM. The data also states that from 1990 to 2000, the number of women who are at risk for FGM grew by approximately 35 percent in this country. A 1996 federal law prohibiting the practice of FGM within the US did not address the risk of girls removed from the country, sometimes to their parents’ countries of origin, to be subjected to FGM.

I am aware that new legislation, the “Girls Protection Act of 2011” (S. 1919) introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) aims to close this loophole and strengthen the 1996 federal law. This legislation would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM. As my United States Senator, I urge you to cosponsor S. 1919 and take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. I also urge you to support the implementation of culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs to protect girls living in the US from FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Dear Congressperson:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the common situation where girls are taken to their countries of origin to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is considered a severe human rights violation and the World Health Organization classifies the practice as a reflection of deep rooted inequality between the sexes and an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, which takes place throughout Africa, certain countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. According to an analysis of 2000 U.S. census data conducted by the African Women’s Health Center (AWHC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, approximately 228,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk for FGM. The data also states that from 1990 to 2000, the number of women who are at risk for FGM grew by approximately 35 percent in this country. A 1996 federal law prohibiting the practice of FGM within the US did not address the risk of girls removed from the country, sometimes to their parents’ countries of origin, to be subjected to FGM.

I am aware that the “Girls Protection Act” (HR 2221) co-sponsored by Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) aims to close this loophole and strengthen the 1996 federal law. The Crowley-Bono Mack extraterritoriality amendment or “vacation provision” would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM. As my representative, I urge you cosponsor H.R. 2221 and take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. I also urge you to support the implementation of culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs to protect girls living in the US from FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Equality Now named Secretariat of first UK All Party Parliamentary Group to Address Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12 December 2011
Contact: LONDON: Efua Dorkenoo, (44) (0)20-7839-5456, edorkenoo@equalitynow.org
NEW YORK: Karen Asare, (01) 212-586-0906, media@equalitynow.org
NAIROBI: Mary Ciugu, (254) 20-271-9913/9832, equalitynownairobi@equalitynow.org

Pioneering, anti-FGM Activist Efua Dorkenoo Presents the Issues and Challenges Faced by those Working to Eliminate FGM at the Ground-breaking Launch

Advocacy Director for FGM Efua Dorkenoo addresses Parliament at launch of UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on FGM

12/7/2011 -- Jane Ellison, MP -- "New Parliamentary Group on Female Genital Mutilation launched" Advocacy Director for FGM Efua Dorkenoo addresses Parliament at launch of new UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on FGM.

Girls in U.S. at Risk of Female Genital Mutilation will be Further Protected with Extraterritoriality Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
29 November 2011
Contact:  WASHINGTON, DC:  Shelby Quast, 202-841-5630, squast@equalitynow.org
NEW YORK: Karen Asare, 212-586-0906, media@equalitynow.org
 

Equality Now & SOAWR Release Guide on Groundbreaking Protocol on Rights of Women in Africa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
14 July 2011
Contact: NAIROBI: Mary Ciugu, (254) 20 271-9832/913, equalitynownairobi@equalitynow.org

Equality Now and Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Release New Practical Guide on Using the Groundbreaking Protocol on Rights of Women in Africa

How-to-Guide will Equip Activists with Strong Tools to Protect and Advance African Women's Rights

Liberian Jury Delivers "Guilty" Verdict on Ruth Berry Peal's Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11 July 2011
Contact: NAIROBI: Mary Ciugu, (254) 20 271-9832/913, equalitynownairobi@equalitynow.org
NEW YORK: Karen Asare, (01) 212-586-0906, media@equalitynow.org

Dr. Isatou Touray

Risking Everything to End Harmful Traditional Practices in The Gambia
Isatou Touray

1. What kinds of changes have you seen in the practice of FGM in The Gambia in your years of working on this issue? Is it declining?

Liberia: Ensure justice in the case of Ruth Berry Peal who was forcibly subjected to FGM

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2011 Mar 24
Update Date: 
2011 Jul 8
Update: 

Following a month of deliberation, a guilty verdict was announced on July 8, 2011 by the jury in Ruth Berry Peal’s case on charges of kidnapping, felonious restraint and theft.  The sentencing of the two women will take place this week by the judge, who in closing made references to the Liberian Constitution and Article 4(1) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women’s Protocol), which states: “Every woman shall be entitled to respect for her life and the integrity and security of her person. All forms of exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.”

Equality Now and its Liberian partners, the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) and Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), welcome the jury’s decision and are eagerly awaiting the sentencing of the perpetrators.  We are also continuing to urge the government of Liberia to take expeditious action to protect girls and women from female genital mutilation, and, to this end, calling on the Liberian government to stop issuing permits to the FGM practitioners, to initiate the process towards enactment of a law criminalizing FGM and to invest in public education against the practice.

We are grateful to you for your steadfast advocacy for the rights of women and girls. Together we can make a difference, and a better world. Please continue to write to the Liberian government to enact a law against FGM and to stop issuing permits to FGM practitioners.  We will keep you informed of future developments.

Ruth Berry Peal
What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Liberian authorities noted below urging them to honor Liberia’s international and regional human rights commitments by enacting and enforcing comprehensive legislation against FGM as well as supporting educational outreach to relevant communities and local chiefs on the harms of FGM. Furthermore, urge the Minister of Internal Affairs to immediately cease the practice of issuing permits to schools where FGM is conducted. Also ask them to ensure that Ruth Peal obtains justice and remedy for the abuse she suffered. Because Ruth is threatened by members of the secret society and traditional heads who support the secret society, please request that the government provide her with immediate protection.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel:             +231 644 4696     
Email: info@emansion.gov.lr

Dr. Christiana Tah
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 0123
Ashmun Street
Monrovia, Republic of Liberia
Tel:            + 231 669 7205     
Email: info@moj.gov.lr
ctah@aol.com

H.E. Vabah K. Gayflor
Minister for Gender and Development
P.O. Box 10-1375
110 UN Drive & Gurley Street
1000 Monrovia 10
Republic of Liberia
Tel:             +231 651 6434     
Email: veegayflor@yahoo.com

H.E. Harrison Kahnweah
Minister of Internal Affairs
Executive Mansion Ground
Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel:             +231 651 3358     
Email: hkarnwea@yahoo.com
http://www.mia.gov.lr

Letters: 

Dear [Your Excellency/Minister]:

I am writing to express my deep concern over the high incidence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Liberia. It is estimated that Over 58 percent of Liberian women have undergone the practice of FGM, which is carried out through a politically influential female secret society known as the Sande society, as part of an initiation rite into womanhood. Many girls are subjected to FGM at traditional schools for the Sande society.  I am concerned to learn that Liberian Ministry of Internal Affairs issues permits to women who run these schools and carry out FGM on the girls in attendance.  

Women from non-FGM practicing communities may also be subjected to FGM in Liberia either through marriage into practicing groups or by force as was the case with Ruth Berry Peal, who was subjected to this practice in 2010 due to an order issued by a Gola chief presiding over her dispute with two women from an FGM practicing community.  Ruth was abducted from her home by the women and was taken to the ‘bush’ where she was forcefully genitally mutilated. She has filed a suit against the two women who mutilated her   and, as a result, has been receiving threats from the community to drop the case.

Despite the Liberian constitution which guarantees the rights of life, liberty and security of person to all Liberians and your ratification of various international and regional human rights treaties that mandate the protection of women and girls from the practice of FGM, (including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Women’s Protocol), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and of the Convention on the Rights of the Child), the Liberian government has failed to provide protection to the women and girls from being subjected to FGM.

Significantly, I note that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the treaty body that monitors compliance with CEDAW, in examining your country’s report in 2009, urged you to “enact without delay . . . legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation and to ensure that offenders are prosecuted and punished in accordance with the severity of this violation” and to “immediately stop issuing permits to practitioners as currently being done by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.” It encouraged Liberia to “extend and accelerate implementation of programmes designed to sensitize and provide alternate sources of income for those who perform female genital mutilation” and to “strengthen its awareness-raising and educational efforts, targeted at both women and men, including government officials at all levels, chiefs and other traditional and community leaders, . . to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation and its underlying cultural justification.”

I urge you to take immediate action, as is your obligation under Article 5 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and under other international human rights treaties, and enact and enforce a law prohibiting FGM; to immediately cease the practice of issuing permits to FGM practitioners; and to institute other protective mechanisms that will guarantee protection to all women and girls in Liberia from undergoing FGM. I also respectfully request that you do all in your power to ensure that Ruth Berry Peal receives justice and protection. 

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

 

Tanzania: Equality Now calls upon the government of Tanzania to halt the on-going genital mutilation of girls and women in the Tarime district

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 Dec 3

Equality Now is deeply concerned about reports that over 5,000 girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) during the forthcoming December holiday season in a number of villages of the Tarime District in the Mara Region.

What You Can Do: 

Please join Equality Now and call on the Tanzanian government to immediately ensure that girls from Tarime are protected from FGM and the perpetrators who have carried out the practice there are arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Also urge the government of the United Republic of Tanzanian to ensure that the police take decisive action to enforce the law for the benefit of all girls and women in Tanzania at risk of FGM and that they take other preventative and protective measures as appropriate in accordance with Tanzania’s national and international obligations. TAKE ACTION!

Send letters to:

His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
President of the United Republic of Tanzania
Office of the President
P.O Box 9120
Dar-es-Salaam, TANZANIA
Tel Office: +255 22 211 6679 or +255 211 0972 or +255 22 211 6538
Personal Mobile: +255 754 777 777
Fax: +255 22 212 8585 or +255 22 211 3425
Email: jkikwete@yahoo.com

Hon. Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda
Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 980, Dodoma.
P.O. Box 3021
Dar- es-Salaam, TANZANIA
Tel: +255 22 211 6798, +255 22 232 4904

Hon. Celina Ompeshi Kombani,
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
PO Box 9050
Dar-es-Salaam, TANZANIA
Tel: +255 22 211 3234 or +255 22 212 3803
Fax: +255 22 211 3236
Email: dafrosa_mniko@yahoo.com; katibumkuu@sheria.go.tz

Commissioner Said Ally Mwema
Inspector General of Police
PO Box 9141
Dar-Es-Salaam, TANZANIA
Tel. Office: +255 22 211 3461
Personal mobile: +255 754 785 557
Fax: +255 22 213 6556
Email: smwema@yahoo.com, or s_mwema@yahoo.com, or s.mwema@yahoo.com

Hon. Sophia Mathayo Simba
Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children's Affairs
PO Box 3448
Dar-es-Salaam, TANZANIA
Tel: +255 22 213 2057 +255 22 211 5074; +255 22 211 5635
Fax: +255 22 213 3647
Email: info_wic@uccmail.co.tz

Hon. Shamsi Vuai Nahodha
Minister of Home Affairs
P.O. Box 2218
Dar-es-Salaam, TANZANIA
Tel: +255 22 211 7108, +255 22 213 36322, +255 22 211 2034; +255 22 211 7353
Fax: +255 22 212 2617, +255 22 213 9675
Email: comments@moha.go.tz; ps@moha.go.tz

Mr. Z. Munisi
Assistant Superintendent of Police
Police headquarters- Gender Department
Fax: + 255 22 213 1174
Dar-es-Salaam, TANZANIA

Letters: 

[Date]

Dear [President] [Prime Minister] [Minister] [Inspector General] [Assistant Superintendent of Police]:

I am writing to express my deep concern about reports that over 5,000 girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) during the forthcoming December holiday season in a number of villages of the Tarime District in the Mara Region. Tarime has a very high rate of FGM which is performed on cohorts of girls in ceremonies that take place at least every two years in almost the entire district.  There are reports suggesting that over 250 girls may have already been subjected to FGM in Tarime over the past several days and more girls will undergo the practice as it is planned that genital mutilation will be taking place every day from now until mid January 2011. 

Despite the fact that FGM is prohibited under the Sexual Offences Special Provision Act 1998, the government seems to have done nothing to prevent these girls from undergoing FGM including particularly in such publically known ceremonies.  The police in Tarime district have so far failed to arrest any perpetrators who have been subjecting girls to FGM, inspite of their obligation under Section 5 of the Police Force Ordinance Cap.322, to “detect and prevent crime and apprehend the perpetrators”.

In failing to take action to prevent girls from undergoing FGM, the Tanzanian government is failing its obligations under regional and international human rights instruments.  Article 5(d) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, requires the government to protect women and girls at risk from being subjected to FGM.  Section 21 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child requires the government to eliminate harmful social and cultural practices and in particular those “prejudicial to the health or life of the child.”  Tanzania is also a party to other international instruments that prohibit the practice of harmful traditional practices including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Please take immediate and urgent action to ensure that girls from Tarime are protected from FGM and the perpetrators who have carried out the practice are arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Also ensure that the police take decisive action to enforce the law for the benefit of all girls and women in Tanzania at risk of FGM and that they take other preventative and protective measures as appropriate in accordance with Tanzania’s national and international obligations.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely
 

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