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Female Circumcision: "Europe Should Learn From Africa"

Nine villages in Mali ban female circumcision, and celebrate this in a solemn ceremony;  a future bride in Ethiopia proclaims in public that she and her fiancé are happy that she has not been circumcised.

More and more men and women in Africa are saying ‘no” to the genital mutilation of their daughters, as a result of effective local interventions that have helped break ancestral taboos.

The incidence of female genital mutilation (FGM) is even regressing in Ethiopia, Guinea, Niger and Sudan, says Berhane Ras-Work, who has been fighting it for the past 25 years. Berhane Ras-Work is the Executive director of the Inter-African Committee (IA) on traditional practices, based in Addis Ababa.

In Sudan, women are taking a positive approach to the phenomenon.  Nafisa Nedri refuses to say that she is “not circumcised”. Instead, she says ‘I’m salima”. Her 19-year old daughter is salima too. Salima  means “whole, intact” in Arabic.

“I fought for my daughter. I had to take a very strong stance and teach her to do the same whenever she’s bullied or called names because she’s not circumcised,” says Ms. Nedri.

Wearing stunning red, green and yellow shawls, their message is celebrate the beauty of the female body left intact. Members of the "salima" campaign joined an international conference on FGM this week in the Netherlands.

“Salima is born, she has been created from the Nile water. Salima is a beautiful, happy girl with a smile.  She’s the future.” sings their theme song.

Similarly, in Mali, abolitionists dress up young girls in beautiful traditional attire to celebrate the fact that they have remained untouched by the blade,  though the battle is far from won. In Sudan, mainly in the North, about 89% of girls are at risk; in Mali, the  rate is 85%.

FGM is illegal in 17 African countries and in Europe, although the legislation is rarely enforced.  With its important migrant communities, Europe  is also trying to come to grips with this practice, with the help of Diaspora organisations.

Dutch Deputy health minister Jet Bussemaker, hosting the international delegates at the conference,  said that European countries have much to learn from effective campaigns against the genital mutilation of girls in Africa.  
"The immigrants here should learn about what is in their country of origin, in Africa, and that would help them in saying no here as well. That’s why I side with my colleague Bert Koenders, Minister of Development to improve this exchange. And then we, in the Netherlands, should ensure that other European countries actively put in the effort as well."
 
Below is a music video against Female Genital Mutilation produced by Sini Sanuman, a Non-Governmental Organisation based in Mali.
 
"Leave her alone. Every individual has the right to life.. and to the integrity of their person. .. let the old people listen and understand that this is time to stop excising."

 



 
Sariya ( the Law) sung by the Zotto Boys, written by Mohamed Sanous Diakité
 
Photo:
Helga Lobster (Flickr CC)

 

SOURCE: Radio Netherland

AUTHOR: Hélène Michaud

URL: Click here

DATE: 27/11/09

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