First Published: 2014-02-07

Mali community leaders renounce female circumcision
14 communities representingmany ethnic groups in Mali are taking solemn commitment to abandon practice of FGM, early and forced marriage involving their girls.
Middle East Online

Against FGM

BAMAKO - Community leaders gathered in Mali Thursday to mark an international day of campaigning against female genital mutilation, publicly renouncing a practice that is still legal in the deeply-conservative west African nation.

Moussocoura Sidibe, the spokesman for 14 communities representing numerous ethnic groups in the Muslim-majority country, said they were taking "the solemn commitment to abandon the practice of FGM and early and forced marriage involving girls in our communities".

The participants in the announcement at a sports stadium in the capital Bamako represented about 1,000 people, according to organisers Tostan -- or "breakthrough" in the west African language of Wolof -- a US-registered development charity.

Female genital mutilation, or female circumcision, involves the ritual removal of the external genitalia of young girls with the aim of ensuring their chastity as women.

The painful and sometimes fatal operation is usually carried out on girls between infancy and age 15. It can cause infections and, later, infertility and childbirth complications.

Fanta Kourouma, a housewife from Yirimadio, a south-eastern suburb of the capital, said she had been campaigning against FGM since 1982.

"I lost a girl because of circumcision. I have a second daughter, who continues to live with the side-effects... I am very proud of what is happening today in my own neighbourhood," she said.

Thursday's announcement was the result of several years of campaigning targeting 90 women's associations in Yirimadio with Tostan seeking the backing of community elders, the charity's coordinator Mah Cisse said.

"We encountered many difficulties because it is not easy to change people's behaviour," she added.

Youssouf Bagayogo, a government official attending the ceremony, welcomed the announcement and said that "soon, the government will legislate to ban the practice", without giving a timetable.

In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is concentrated, more than 125 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The agency says a further 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030, if current trends continue.

"Human development cannot be fully achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from this human rights violation or live in fear of it," UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said in a statement to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

"It is an affront to their human dignity, an assault on their health and an impediment to the well-being of their families, communities and countries.

"Human development cannot be fully achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from this human rights violation or live in fear of it."

While FGM remains legal in Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau have recently adopted laws criminalising the practice.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the need to "strive to preserve the best in any culture, and leave harm behind," in a statement to mark the day.

"Although some would argue that this is a 'tradition', we must recall that slavery, so-called honour killings and other inhumane practices have been defended with the same weak argument," he said.

 

Syrian refugees desert Middle East for Europe

Israel to use agriculture to win friends in Africa

UN pursues Syria chemical weapons probe

71 'Syrians' dead in Austria truck tragedy

Iran premieres big-budget epic film 'Muhammad'

Al-Qaeda lashes 10 in Yemen for blasphemy, alcohol

Turkey PM to form cabinet ahead of November polls

Iraq PM orders forces to prepare to open Green Zone

UN conference on plight of minorities persecuted by IS

Spain judge accuses suspect of running IS Morocco network

Yemen army recruits 4,800 southern fighters

At least 76 die as boat sinks off Libya

US says IS cyber jihadist killed in Syria strike

S.Sudan govt calls peace deal 'reward for rebellion'

Serbia, Macedonia urge EU action on migrants

South Sudan peace deal given cautious welcome

Two Iraqi generals in Anbar suicide bomb attack

IS seizes five villages from rebels in Syria's Aleppo

Syria regime, rebels agree new 48-hour truce for three towns

Shebab gunmen ambush Somali army convoy

Iraq PM plans to implement constitutional reform

Muslims not doing enough to fight IS: Queen Rania

Lebanon charges radical Islamist Al-Assir with 'terrorism'

Qaeda group blows up Yemen army HQ in Mukalla

Palestinian rivals agree ceasefire in Lebanon camp

New migrant tragedy in Mediterranean: 40 people dead, 2,000 in danger

Tehran's shoe-shine man in a red stiletto

Saudi King to meet Obama next month on first trip to US as monarch

Turkey PM invites pro-Kurdish MPs into caretaker cabinet

Car bomb attack kills Syria opposition commander in Turkey

Arab League postpones meeting on joint military force

Erdogan sends clear message to voters: It’s either AKP or instability!

South Sudan leader meets regional leaders ahead of peace deal

Saudi Arabia ‘holding’ key suspect in 1996 Khobar bombing

Israel releases second group of migrants from desert facility

US military may have skewed reports on progress against ISIS

Aid groups launch joint call to end Gaza blockade

Qaeda in Yemen denies having held British hostage rescued by UAE

Europe fails to overcome divisions as refugee crisis accelerates

European ministers to discuss security measures after France train attack

ISIS claims bloody attack on Egypt security forces in Sinai

Saudi executes four despite moratorium call

Afghan mercenaries in Syria: Iran presses ahead with covert recruitment

Record numbers of migrants crossing into Hungary

Kuwait summons Iran envoy over disputed gas field