This No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) news digest rounds up some of the week’s top FGM & Women’s Rights stories for the week ending 26 March:
Breast ironing awareness ‘needed in school’
BBC, 26 Mar 2019
The practice involves ironing a girl’s chest with hot objects to delay breasts from growing, so she does not attract male attention. Conservative MP Nicky Morgan said teachers must also be educated, as they have a “very important role to play”. The Home Office said teachers have a duty to report concerns. “Kinaya” – whose name we have changed – lives in the UK. Her family descends from west Africa – where breast ironing originates – and she was subjected to it aged 10. She said her mother told her that “if I don’t I iron them, men will start coming to you, to have sex with you”. It is often the child’s mother who will undertake the breast ironing, which usually involves heating a stone or spoon on a flame then pressing, massaging or flattening the breast.
Why would a mother make her daughter undergo FGM?
BBC, 25 Mar 2019
Dr Leyla Hussein has had first-hand experience of female genital mutilation. She explains how mothers feel pressurised into putting their daughters through the practice, even when – in Leyla’s case – the father’s family may not insist on it. “I was pinned down by the women who I trusted the most.”
Saudi Arabia: Abusive Charges Against Women Activists
Human Rights Watch, 21 Mar 2019
Saudi Arabia’s charges against women’s rights defenders appear almost entirely related to their human rights activities, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi Arabia opened individual trials on March 13, 2019 of 11 activists, most of them prominent women’s rights advocates detained beginning in May 2018. Saudi Arabia should immediately release all human rights activists detained merely for their rights advocacy, Human Rights Watch said. Informed sources who have reviewed the prosecutor’s written charge sheets have described to Human Rights Watch the content of charges for two of the detainees, nearly all of which are related to peaceful human rights work, including promoting women’s rights and calling for an end to Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system.
FGM resurgence needs urgent focus on changing the social norms
The Observer, 20 Mar 2019
Media reports have been awash with the resurgence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Sebei sub-region, with the highest number of victims reported coming from Kween district. Unconfirmed estimates have put the number of those mutilated at almost 400. The nation is shocked because many thought the practice was a thing of the past. To many observers, it may seem like after the enactment of the FGM Act in 2010, FGM ended. After the law became operational, the authorities began arresting individuals involved in the practice in order to send a clear message that the practice is a public health problem and a gross violation of rights! Much as the approach seemed to work, it is important to note that such deep-rooted practices do not disappear overnight. The communities that practice FGM cherish it as an important rite of passage that defines a woman’s social status.
The US Denied Visas To Women From Africa And The Middle East Hoping To Attend The UN’s Women Conference
BuzzFeed News, 20 Mar 2019
Dozens of women have been denied visas to attend a major United Nations women’s conference in New York. According to campaigners, women from African and Middle Eastern countries that fell under Donald Trump’s travel ban were disproportionately affected. The US is obliged under a 70-year-old treaty to not restrict people or NGOs from attending the UN headquarters. In protest, women’s rights campaigners are petitioning the US Mission to the UN to streamline visa procedures for those traveling to the UN. The Commission on the Status of Women is an annual conference, running this year from March 11–22, where representatives from member states, NGO workers, and women’s rights activists gather to evaluate the global progress on gender and equality.