Meryl Streep to Host U.S. Premiere of Africa Rising—New Documentary on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

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New York Must Step Up Efforts to Address FGM. African Activists Featured in Documentary to Meet New York Advocates Dealing with FGM

28 October 2009
Contact: Lakshmi Anantnarayan, 212-586-0906,

The international human rights organization Equality Now will bring together international and New York activists fighting to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in a media briefing on November 3, 2009 at 10.00 am. The briefing will compare the shortcomings of efforts to address FGM in the US and New York in contrast with some ground-breaking advancements made by grassroots groups across Africa in the movement to end FGM.

Speakers include: FGM survivor from Mali, service providers in New York who often deal with clients facing the risk and/or effects of FGM will define the extent and nature of the problem here, African anti-FGM activists from Mali and Kenya, and international human rights activists who work to end FGM globally. The international activists are in New York for the US Premiere of a new documentary film in which they were featured called Africa Rising: The Grassroots Movement to End Female Genital Mutilation. The film will premiere in New York on November 3, 2009 at 7.00 pm at the NYU Cantor Film Center and will be hosted by Meryl Streep. (Media RSVP Required)

Everyday 6,000 girls are at risk of undergoing FGM through out the world. In the US, 228,000 women and girls are estimated to have undergone or are at risk of FGM. Census data from 2000 indicates that over 40,000 women and girls are at risk in the metropolitan region of New York, Northern New Jersey and Long Island. Metropolitan New York is considered to have the highest concentration of women and girls at risk of undergoing FGM in the US, yet there is little awareness or services to address the specific needs of these women and girls.

New York passed a law prohibiting FGM in 1997, which criminalizes the practice in the state. But advocates say this law doesn’t go far enough since the biggest issue they face is girls who are subjected to FGM during school vacations when they are taken back to their parents’ countries of origin. The New York law does not criminalize the removal of a child from the state to subject her to FGM. Out of 17 states that have outlawed FGM in the US, only Georgia and Nevada have the so called “vacation provision.” In order to address this and other deficiencies, New York activists will launch a new statewide coalition that will advocate for strengthening New York’s anti-FGM law, increase resources to address FGM more effectively, and raise awareness among practicing communities

November 3, 2009 at 10.00 am

Equality Now, 250, West 57th Street, Suite 1527, New York, NY 1010

Fanta Camara, FGM survivor from Mali (awaiting visa confirmation)
Kadidia Sidibe, Executive Director, AMSOPT, Mali
Agnes Pareiyo, Executive Director, Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, Kenya
Mariama Diallo, Case Manager, Sanctuary for Families,
Archana Pyati, Asylum Attorney, Sanctuary for Families
Efua Dorkeno, International anti-FGM activist and author, Ghana/UK
Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director, Equality Now

It is estimated that 100 to 140 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM around the world. Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director of Equality Now says, “While many have heard about this human rights abuse, little is known about the formidable and fearless grassroots movement that has for years worked tirelessly to eradicate FGM, which is why Equality Now decided to produce Africa Rising.”

The film travels through remote villages in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Somalia and Tanzania, highlighting the diverse ways in which activists are putting an end to this human rights violation against women and girls. From working with circumcisers to lay down their knives, convincing community leaders to help end FGM, engaging the police to implement the law, and fostering a vibrant youth movement, FGM activists have creatively and resourcefully conceptualized a broad-based anti-FGM movement.

For more information, please visit

October 28, 2009 - 12:30