Tag Archives: female genital mutilation

Two Doctors Arrested in Michigan for Performing Female Genital Mutilation

An anonymous tip to federal authorities, cell phone records, and surveillance video have put two doctors behind bars for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls as young as seven in Michigan. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar are currently awaiting a detention hearing next week. Attar’s wife was also arrested at she and her husband’s suburban Livonia, Michigan clinic on Friday.

The girls who live in Minnesota were taken by their parents to Michigan in February for the FGM procedure that was performed by Nagarwala at Attar’s clinic. Nagarwala denies performing FGM, but rather removing membranes for burial by the girls’ parents. While the parents have not been arrested one girl was put in the care of the state for a short period.

A federal law passed in 1996 officially made FGM illegal across the country. 25 states also have anti-FGM laws on their books. Despite FGM’s illegality, it is estimated that there are 500,000 young girls in the United States who have either undergone FGM or are at risk for having the procedure done in secret.

Those involved are alleged to be a part of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Michigan.

Surveillance from the unsealed complaint revealed 20-minute FGM procedures performed by Nagarwala after hours and phone records showing Mrs. Attar telling the girls’ parents to deny everything if they were contacted by investigators.

The detention hearings are expected to take place on Wednesday. Nagarwala was already deemed a flight risk after being caught trying to take a flight to Kenya.

Putting an End to Female Genital Mutilation

Today marks the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Each year February 6th is spent by leading NGOs and international aids organizations spreading awareness about the devastating cutting practice that puts three million girls in both east and west Africa as well as Arab countries at risk of undergoing FGM.

An estimated 101 million girls have undergone FGM in Africa and while there are many communities in Africa that continue the practices many are renouncing FGM. In fact 36% of girls between the ages of 15 – 19 in Africa (concentrated in 29 countries) are at risk of FGM as opposed to 53% of women between the ages of 45 – 49 who have already undergone FGM. The numbers are decreasing according to the UNFPA.

“Senegal is going way out front to tackle FGM,” said Lynne Featherstone, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development and Champion for the elimination of violence against women during a Google+ Hangout today. “It seems to me to be a good example of behavior change. We have an ambition to end FGM in a generation.”

“UNFPA and UNICEF have an institutional approach to ridding the world of FGM,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. “Since 2008 that joint program has seen at least 10 thousand communities in these countries denounce FGM.

Osotimehin also said that 88,000 health providers have been trained so that they can work in health centers and educate traditional communities about the dangers of FGM.

Despite the increased awareness and lowering of FGM rates Osotimehin said, “I think there is a lot more to do. We need to invest more domestically and internationally. We need to work more with governments on the ground. We need to stigmatize FGM. We can achieve it. If we don’t there are 30 million girls who are still at risk for FGM.”

Learn more about female genital mutilation and how you can help at www.endfistula.org.

Photo Credit: United Nations

Women Spur on 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

Since 1991 from November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women through December 10, International Human Rights Day the world recognizes 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Gender violence damages the spirit of women and girls, their families, and communities and seeks to control them through gender-based discrimination. Current reports out of Syria (Rape is shredding Syria’s social fabric) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo rape numbers increase dramatically) show that in these war-torn areas sexual violence is used as a weapon of war to intimidate women and emasculate  the men who are supposed to be able to protect them.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), another example, of gender violence, still ravishes millions of little girls despite thousands of communities pledging to put an end to the cultural practice. In fact, on November 28 the UN Third Committee, the social, cultural and humanitarian arm of the UN, approved text to include the elimination of FGM for the first time in its history.

Gender discrimination throughout a woman’s life

Phase Type
Prenatal Prenatal sex selection, battering during pregnancy, coerced pregnancy (rape during war)
Infancy Female infanticide, emotional and physical abuse, differential access to food and medical care
Childhood Genital cutting; incest and sexual abuse; differential access to food, medical care, and education; child prostitution
Adolescence Dating and courtship violence, economically coerced sex, sexual abuse in the workplace, rape, sexual harassment, forced prostitution
Reproductive Abuse of women by intimate partners, marital rape, dowry abuse and murders, partner homicide, psychological abuse, sexual abuse in the workplace, sexual harassment, rape, abuse of women with disabilities
Old Age Abuse of widows, elder abuse (which affects mostly women)

Source: Heise, L. 1994. Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden. World Bank Discussion Paper. Washington. D.C. The World Bank via UNFPA: Ending Widespread Violence Against Women.

World Pulse, an action media network powered by women from 190 countries that lifts and unites women’s voices to accelerate their impact for the world, has been featuring stories of women’s experience with gender-based violence since November 25. Read the global stories on their blog.

Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Zero Tolerance

On December 6 women and girls in Zam Zam camp for Internally displaced persons (IDP), North Darfur, perform traditional Darfuri dances at the event organized by UNAMID Human Rights to promote the new campaign “Together to Protect Women from Violence”, as part of the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Zero Tolerance.

This is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

Photos by Albert González Farran – UNAMID

10 Global Development Stories to be Thankful For

Typically when we think of global development we focus on everything that is wrong because the challenges are so great. Rarely are the successes celebrated because with every move towards a goal there is still so much to do.

Today we are featuring those stories that have been more about success than failure; more about moving forward than moving backward even if the net result only makes a small dent in the overall scheme of things.

    1. Female Genital Mutilation Banned Under New Somalian Constitution
    2. Path’s Sure Start Program Ensures the Reduction of Maternal Mortality
    3. Living, Thriving with HIV/AIDS: A Mother’s Story
    4. A Return to Normalcy: Mogadishu’s Lido Beach Lively Again
    5. Somalia’s Concerted Move Toward Gender Equality
    6. Men March Against Child Marriage in Liberia
    7. A Promising Trend for Data,Transparency
    8. New Fishing, Agricultural Development Project in Haiti
    9. Quick Impact Project Provides Education for Darfur Children
    10. Powering the Country With Wind Energy

What global development stories are you thankful for?

Photo: Jennifer James, Kenya

Female Genital Mutilation Banned Under New Somalian Constitution

Somalia has a new government and with it a new provision in its constitution in Title 2: Article 15: Liberty and Security of the Person that bans female genital mutilation (FGM). The new law states:

Circumcision of girls is a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.

According to several reports between 90% to 95% of all girls undergo female genital mutilation in Somalia. FGM is a procedure where the outside of girls’ genitals (clitoris) is removed in order to take away sexual feeling from the vagina. It is a cultural practice to keep girls pure for marriage, but causes undue health problems throughout one’s life including urinary tract and bladder infections, infertility, cysts, and a need for later surgeries according to the World Health Organization.

While this new law in the Somalian constitution is a move in the right direction it will be another fight entirely to enforce it.

UN Photo/Stuart Price