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samedi 15 juin 2013
FGM slowing down ? The UN asserts it, the Indonesian case contradicts it
DANS LA MEME RUBRIQUE
Burkini Is a Feminist Issue Too
The notion that it’s ok for disabled men to pay for sex is rooted in misogyny and ableism
Egyptian doctor living in Zurich produces educational videos about health and sexuality for the Arab world
Amnesty International and Prostitution : Not in Our Name !
Open letter to rabble.ca - Support Meghan Murphy suffered a misogynist campaign by the sex industry lobby
"Insectual - The Secret of the Black Butterfly", by Barbara Sala
Canada’s New Sex Trade Law
Sharia Law, Apostasy and Secularism
“Harm reduction” is not enough to appropriately analyze prostitution
True Progressives Encourage Women’s Equality, Not Their Prostitution
Sexual mutilations outside Africa : new report and new denial except the Iraqi case
Prostitution, STRASS and the senator - When opacity becomes relevant
Is equating prostitution and rape ‘intolerable violence’ ? Really ?
Obama, Madonna and us
After Ontario Courts rule on Bedford : a rant
Comparing Sex Buyers and Non-Sex Buyers July 2011 (Boston)
Sex resistance in heterosexual arrangements
Abolitionists of the prostitution system : who we are, what we want !
Women Living Under Muslim Laws Statement on Libya
Prostitution is a Threat to Humanity
Prostitution - Call for Australia’s prostitution laws to be tightened
Violence - An Open Letter from Black Women to SlutWalk Organizers
Nothing that is sexual can be considered criminal : hidden sexual violence in the DSK case
The Truth about Global Sex Slavery – A Book by Lydia Cacho
Why reproductive rights and prostitution are not the same thing : A response to one decriminalization argument
Prostitution - The abolitionist project within the conference Women’s Worlds 2011
Montreal - The Turcotte jury got it wrong
Reasons I Will Not Go On the Slutwalk
International Sex Industries and their Accomplices Hamper the Autonomy of All Women
Ten Critical Reasons for getting rid of Harper’s Conservatives
Real solidarity with prostituted women is in the fight for abolition of prostitution
Decriminalize prostituted persons and criminalize those who exploit them (‘johns’ and pimps)
Polygamy in Canada Should Remain Illegal
My fears of the push for indoors prostitution
We cannot be satisfied with the simple harm-reduction model
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is Worried About Himel’s Judgement on Prostitution
Ontario Court Decision Abandons Aboriginal Women and Women of Colour to Pimps
Response to the VPD review in the cases of the Pickton Murders
Speech - The effects of globalization of political Islam on Women’s Rights, the question with polygamy, the Niqab and Honour Killing
Quebec Forges Enlightened Trail on Burkas
Breast Cancer a Disease, No a Marketing Opportunity
The International Campaign To Closedown Iranian Embassies
Violation of rights in Iran, a window from my experience to a broader picture
"Sex worker" ? Never met one !
The One Million Signatures Campaign has been awarded the prestigious Global Women’s Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation
Prostitution - Feminist Perspectives, a book
Prostitution : Violating the Human Rights of Poor Women
More than 1 000 american historians call for equity in the stimulus package in open letter to Obama
Order of Canada Awarded to Dr. Morgentaler - Acts of intimidation should not rule Canada
Femaid report on Afghanistan, May 2008
Time for Quebecers to be more open : Bouchard-Taylor report
Canadian Bar Association supports strengthening equality in the Quebec Charter
Zero Tolerance for Johns : How the Government of Sweden Would Respond to Spitzer
Politicians are responsible for toxic, misogynist environment facing girls
Spitzer - The Myth of the Victimless Crime
Goodbye To All That (#2)
The freedom to never prostitute oneself
NO legalized brothels for the Olympics 2010 - Aboriginal women’s Action Network statement on prostitution
CLES says NO to the violence of prostitution
Does Porn Make the Man ?
A Trip Into the Absurd
Mothers File International Complaint Against United States
Prostitutes are victims, not criminals
Anthology of Québec Women’s Plays in English Translation, Volume I (1966-1986)
The Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle (CLES) intervene during the upcoming provincial election
Prostitution - Three Women and a Debate
Men Favour the Apolitical Discourse on Prostitution
The Whole Truth Must be Told : Sylviane’s testimony on her experience of prostitution
Democracy and Religious Obligations : an Impasse ?
What is liberation ? Feminism past, present and future
Books by Andrea Dworkin
Globalization, Militarism and Sex Trafficking
Muslim Groups Denounce the Cultural Relativism of a Certain Left
Canadian Muslim leader alleges her veil views sparked vandalism
Prostitution : CATW’S Post-World Cup Statement
NOW to denounce so-called parental alienation
Prostitution : for an Abolitionist Bill
The dimensions of trafficking for purposes of prostitution
"Charm is a Guise ; Batterers Belong in Jail, Expert Says"
Interview with Catherine MacKinnon : Are Women Human ?
Danish cartoons - Doing away with the Enlightenment ?
It’s happening next door : from incestuous girls to alienating mothers
Green Light for Pimps and Johns
Buying Sex is not a Sport
Prostitution is Violence Against Women
The Ideal Site for the Crime
Tell me, what does "gender" really mean ?
Gunilla Ekberg : « The best thing we can do for our sisters is to support them to get out of prostitution »
Interview with Catharine A. MacKinnon : « They haven’t crushed me yet. »
Decriminalizing prostitution, a magnet for pimps and johns
Declaration on Religious Arbitration in Family Law
Prostitution : Towards a Canadian policy of abolition
Prostitution inseparable of violence against women
The need for a public debate on prostitution and its social consequences
Prostitution of First Nations Women in Canada
270 000 $ granted to Stella for a four days event on sex work
IN MEMORIAM : Andrea Dworkin or The passion for justice
Decriminalizing prostitution will not improve the security of prostituted women
Dworkin - Taking Back the Night
Backlash and Whiplash : A Critique of Statistics Canada’s 1999 General Social Survey on Victimization
Helping the prostituted women or promoting prostitution ?
The Need for a Public Debate on Prostitution and its Social Consequences
The legalization of prostitution and its impact on trafficking in women and children
Prostitution Links, Women’s Justice Center
"If you don’t take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits"
Sweden Treating Prostitution as Violence Against Women
Forced marriage as crime
Why Women Must Get out of Men’s Laps
International Campaing Against Shari’a Court in Canada
Decriminalize prostituted women, not prostitution
Canada Contributes to the Sexual Trafficking of Women for Purposes of Prostitution
Fathers’ Rights Groups in Australia and their Engagement with Issues in Family Law
Women Rage Against ’Rape’ in Northeast India
Sexual domination in uniform : an american value
Tribunals Will Marginalize Canadian Muslin Women and Increase Privatization of Family Law
The sexual sadism of our culture, in peace and in war
Queer theory and violence against women
The Legalisation of Prostitution : A failed social experiment
Globalization and the Sex Trade : Trafficking and the Commodification of Women and Children
Will Paternal Paranoia Triumph ?
Ode to Survivors
Court confirms any woman’s human right to organize with peers
Program produces motherless kids
Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work : UN Labour Organization (ILO) Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry (Part One)
Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work : UN International Labour Organization Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry (Part Two)
Elisabeth Badinter distorts feminism the better to fight it
Prostitution : Rights of Women or Right to Women ?
The "Stolen Feminism" Hoax : Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes
Hormone Replacement Therapy, the "Magic Bullet" Ricochets
For the sake of the children : the law, domestic violence and children contact in England
Friendships between women good for health
Children of divorce need our protection
Divorce Bill’s flaws inadvertently aid abusers
Problem isn’t little boys, it’s little minds
A report from Status of Women Canada about the discursive denial of gender inequalities
Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution
Poem for Peace
Peace Rally Speech of a 12 year old American Girl
Good clone, bad clone ?
Canadian Women’s Health Network
So hard to say goodbye
The UN communication with regard to sexual mutilations is deceitful. It underestimates the number of excised girls, ignores the reality of excisors countries such as Indonesia, and maintains strict taboo of the religions role. Without it, reality would appear naked : some 300 mio Muslims are concerned by excision and without an active intervention of religious leaders, the scourge will not disappear.
Investigation and call for a mobilization !
Unicef provides annually the status about the situation of female genital mutilation.1) It is estimated that some 130 million women worldwide have endured it and that three million girls are subject annually to the circumciser’s knife or to any other kind of mutilation. Figures are far below reality.
Unicef also announced that these mutilations are decreasing everywhere. It is also false : in some countries, the scourge increases. The agency also asserts that in 25 years, mutilations will have disappeared. A dream...
The implicit assumption of these statistics is that excising countries are known and identified. Howewer, only Africa (and Yemen) fall into this accounting. Does only Africa excise ? No, but to collect representative data and integrate them, Unicef needs the approval of the governments.
What happens in the Middle East and Southeast Asia ? About the first, we do not know much and the second contradicts the findings of Unicef. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the feminine genital mutilations (FGM) are common, and rising. Moreover, they contribute to the increasing medicalization denounced by the WHO in other countries.
UNICEF increases its estimation by half
The silence of the UN may once again lead to a painful revision. In the mid-2000s, they had to swallow a snake size : a comprehensive survey of its services concluded that circumcised girls each year were not two million as stated previously, but three ! 50% more, a news discreetly reported. At this time, the end of the beam was planned for 2010.2)
This figure of three million is already questionable. Taking into account the number of female births in African countries every year and choosing the lowest assumption among three various surveys, we get a quite different result : 5,3 million. If we include Indonesia with a very low hypothesis (50% mutilated girls), this number reaches 6,3 million !
And it is not all. In 2006, an Austro-German NGO Wadi, announced that circumcision is widely practiced in Iraqi Kurdistan, where some 70% of women undergo mutilations. Other ethnic groups in the country are concerned. Six years later, Iraq is still not included in the statistics of Unicef : “This is currently under review by the Government of Iraq. We cannot comment on the timeline”, explains us Cody Donahue, a specialist in child protection at Unicef headquarters, New York.
We know that many other countries excise, but we do not know the extent. This is the case of the following countries : Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Tajikistan, Maldives, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, India and, said an employee of Wadi in a special bulletin of the United Nations in 2013, “in a very organized and systematic way Indonesia.”4)
According to two other employees of the NGO Wadi, “the fact that direct medical reports are available for either Saudi Arabia or any other country in the region does not mean that FGM are absent, but only that these companies are not free enough to enable the study of such problems ...”5)
So, three million, really ? Cody Donahue recognizes diplomatically : "We agree it is probably underestimated, but cannot correct for it without the required information." A new comprehensive survey and estimation have to be published soon.
Indonesia mutilates on a large scale and more
There are dumb and developing countries where the debate on FGM is in full swing without reaching the ears of Unicef. That is the case of Malaysia and Indonesia. The latter is the largest Muslim country with 240 millions inhabitants. Not only FGM are widespread, but they are increasing because of powerful religious groups that promote them.
In 2003, a survey by the Population Council was published, “Female circumcision in Indonesia” (the term circumcision is widely used to balance the male circumcision).6) It was conducted among eight major ethnic groups from east to west of the archipelago, and almost all the 1’700 involved women had undergone FGM.
Some 28% of these women had suffered “symbolic” practices, which would be free of sequel. The unfortunate clitoris can be scratched, rubbed, stitched, stretched, burned, pierced ... Symbolic or not, these procedures are clearly classified by WHO as mutilations.
Other surveyed women had experienced a more invasive form. "... Direct observation of procedures showed that FC practice in Indonesia certainly involves pain and real genital cutting in about three-quarters of cases."
Furthermore, like many other nations that mutilate, a growing medicalization of FGM has begun in various parts of the country. The "operation" is usually performed by midwives who integrate it into the package delivery services with vaccinations and ear piercing. The trend is worrisome ; the study indicates that midwives tend to perform more invasive forms such as incisions and excisions.
An extensive survey by the University Yarsi Java, published in 2009, confirms most of these findings, as well as Amnesty International report published in 2010.
Since 2010, mutilations have been officially authorized
In June 2005, Azrul Azwar, General Director for Health Affairs in the country, confirmed that "female circumcision" was widely practiced in the country. That same year, the government prepared a decree banning medical personnel to practice.7)
In 2006, the decree appeared without further action. The Ulema Council replicated by a fatwa authorizing the practice, while declaring it non-mandatory. In 2010, the organization Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) acknowledged to be moderate approved the mutilations while advising against "cutting too much." It represents 40 million Muslims. Its women’s wing protests and calls for the elimination of FGM.
In 2010, the government bowed to wishes of religious. A regulation was published, which allows healthcare professionals to practice FGM, also without cutting. The pretext is that ban would encourage parents to contact traditional healers. The following year, more than 170 local and international NGOs protested against this situation and the publication of official documents explaining how to mutilate girls.
May 31, 2012, France2 broadcast a report of Envoyé spécial entitled “Islam. Excision in Indonesia the burden of a tradition.” The team went to Bandung where every year on the anniversary of the death of Muhammad, several hundred girls are excised on the control school.
The financial interest grows, maternity hospitals encourage the practice even in areas where they were rare. The numerous opponents cannot measure up against the religious, whose influence is huge in the population… and among the politicians.
A problem that increases fast
November 18, 2012, the journalist Abigail Haworth decided to release an article about the ceremony of Bandung.8) In 2006, she had attended a collective excision, but anti-FGM activists had convinced her to shut up so as not to obstruct their action. The journalist observes : “Yet far from scaling down, the problem of FGM in Indonesia has escalated sharply.”
The country sticks to his modern image. Its authorities and religious insist on the fact that "their" mutilations can not be assimilated with African practices. The reality is that on the 17,000 islands of the archipelago, it is impossible to know the extent of the evil. It is certain in any case that excisions are numerous and that their consequences are serious.
Everywhere, the motive invoked by mothers to go on with this tradition is Islam. The reasons are mainly the reduction of unbridled libido and purification, as the girls’ genitals are “dirty”.
In January this year, Ma’ruf Amin, Chairman of Indonesian Ulema Council, the highest Islamic authority and the most representative, declared that FGM is a “morally recommended practice with a moral foundation” which is part of “human rights”. They practice “by cutting the part that covers the clitoris”. The perspective of a ban by the authorities is fiercely fought by the religious leaders.9)
Given this situation, how can Unicef not quote Indonesia as a disturbing scope of spread of scourge ? “There are currently no nationally representative data”, answers Cody Donahue. And anyway, “the investigations are the result of negotiations between the government and the agencies that implement them”.
We can therefore read the following lines in the communicate released by Unicef last February : "Cases have been documented in the Middle East, India, Colombia and Indonesia."
Malaysia (30 million inhabitants, 18 Muslims) is not mentioned in this release. However, the situation is very similar to that in Indonesia, and the battle between conservative religious and anti-FGM rages. The practice is widespread and the prevalence is increasing.
No serious progress without support of Muslim leaders
Radical Islam is growing in the Muslim sphere. The regression of manners that follows not only targets women primarily, but also promotes the extension of these intolerable practices.
Out of thirteen countries that circumcise more than 70% of their girls, seven are overwhelmingly Muslim. This is the case of Egypt, Mali, Somalia, Mauritania, northen Sudan, Djibouti and Gambia. That is over 140 million people.
The other six great excisors are multireligious : Ethiopia (100 million) includes an Orthodox and Protestant majority but the Muslim areas excise more than the others. The other high-prevalence countries are Eritrea, Guinea (half Muslim, half Animist), Sierra Leone (60% Islam, 30% Animist) Burkina Faso (60% Muslim) and Guinea Bissau.
All excisor countries include Muslim communities. We can add to the above 140 million, populations gathering 45-50 million in multi-religious countries and, being very careful, 110 million Indonesian and Malaysian citizens (half the population). We take no risk estimating that worldwide, there is about 300 million followers of Mohammed where girls are mutilated. All are convinced that it is required by their religion. An accurate estimation based on this religious criteria is still a taboo.
This predominance is confirmed by the composition of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) : among the 35 countries that excise, 32 are part of this unique and powerful religious lobby in the UN (Iraq, Indonesia and Malaysia included).
Christians and Animists, who can not claim a religious precept, often have fanciful ideas about the consequences of a non-excision. That is why education and information are effective. In Muslim ethnics and Islamic countries, on the opposite, mutilations can be justified by theology.10) The Koran says nothing about, but three hadiths (their authenticity is disputed) indicate that Muhammad approved the excision. Countless imams and scholars refer to it. But even allowed by Muhammad, can Muslims pretend they can legitimately pursue such violence ?
In any case it is inconceivable that the mutilations will seriously and quickly diminish without the mobilization of this religious establishment. This mobilization would be efficient as mothers suffer from this torture inflicted to their daughters and as a large number of men would be ready to give it up.
So far, we have only heard a few general statements supporting the anti-mutilation resolutions in international conferences. But no major action has been started by the leaders and their institutions (Al-Azhar University, the Ulemas Council, OIC, ISESCO, etc.).
Meanwhile, on the ground, the UN agencies and the NGO conduct a courageous, but slow, complicated and expensive struggle to convince opinion leaders (including imams and ulemas) and the population to officially declare their village “free of excision”. In the past four years, some 10’000 villages did it, that represent 8 million inhabitants… out of several hundred millions.
The role of Islam in the non-respect of basic rights of girls must be publicly stated to push its leaders to act. It is time. It is also time for the UN and its subsidiaries to speak the truth and recognize that the reality is much worse than they have said till now.
Mireille Vallette (with the collaboration of Guillaume Aguettant)
1. Several UN agencies join forces to fight excision. We mention only Unicef to simplify reading and because it is the one that leads the annual communication exercise on 6th February, day of “Mutilations Zero tolerance”.
Sisyphe, June 15, 2013