Posts Tagged ‘Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)’

Four women human rights defenders with a mission

March 25, 2020

The Bandera County Courrier of 7 March 2020 referred to the following four women human rights defenders from four non-European countries who should serve as examples for the many who are tirelessly fighting for their rights.

Mexico: Norma Librada Ledezma

Norma Librada Ledezmas 15 – year-old daughter Paloma disappeared on2  March 2002 in Chihuahua, Mexico. 27 For days, the mother searched desperately for her daughter . The police did not give her any support. At the 29. March 2002 Paloma’s body was found. Ledezma is convinced that if the police had investigated earlier and more thoroughly, their daughter could have been saved. That day, the Mexican founded the organization “Justicia para nuestras hijas”, which means: justice for our daughters. This provides legal advice and support in cases of feminicide (murder of women). The same applies to human trafficking and kidnapping. Ledezma wants justice for the victims and the families affected. The Mexican has already supported more than 200 investigations into cases of feminicide and kidnapping. The death of her daughter Paloma is not an isolated case in Mexico. According to UN Women, around ten women are killed in Mexico every day. Ledezma has been able to improve the investigation of feminicides in the country with her work. The Mexican woman has also set up a public prosecutor’s office in Chihuahua that specializes in crimes against women as victims. For her commitment, Ledezma has been nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Award, an award for people and organizations who are committed to protecting human rights. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/05/daughters-murder-motivated-norma-ledezma-to-hunt-for-mexicos-disappeared/]

Norma Librada Ledezma
Norma Librada Ledezma Photo: Martin Ennals Foundation

India: Malti Tudu

Malti Tudu has a mission: she wants to end child marriage in her homeland, the state of Bihar, India. In the tribe the number of child marriages is particularly high. 74 percent of women get married under 18 year  For the young activist, one thing is certain: children should not be forced to marry. According to Unicef, child marriage violates the rights of girls and boys, with girls being affected five times more often. The married girls have to drop out of school. Teenage mothers also die more often than mature women from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Tudu has been fighting child marriage in Bihar for more than two years. The activist has partnered with other women. Together they educate the residents in the surrounding villages and try to prevent as many child marriages as possible. The women also get a lot of headwind in their actions. But Tudu remains persistent – with success. She has already saved several girls from getting married. In the meantime, she has become a role model for many young women in India. In recent years, more and more women have come together to fight child marriage in India. And there is progress: In the past ten years, the proportion of child marriages in India has gone from 50 percent to 27 percent.

Kenya: Christine Ghati Alfons

Christine Ghati Alfons, a young Kenyan, is fighting for the circumcision of girls to stop. That is not easy. Many in their homeland are still convinced that circumcised women have better chances of marriage and are better integrated into the community. Officially, genital mutilation has been official in Kenya since 2011 forbidden. Nevertheless, according to the United Nations, one in five women is still between 15 and 49 years in Kenya – the mutilation happens in private clinics or at home.

Christine Ghati Alfons.
Christine Ghati Alfons. Photo: private

Had her father not stood up for her then, Alfons would have been circumcised. His involvement broke a taboo in the community – and had consequences. He was killed because he wanted to protect his eight-year-old daughter. Alfons didn’t know anything about her father’s courage for a long time. Because all of her friends were circumcised, she wanted that too. The vehemence with which her mother forbade her surprised her. When they talked about the risk of contracting HIV during circumcision at school, Alfons decided against it. Only then did she learn from the mother why her father died. “I want to make my father proud,” says Alfons today. She is committed to girls who have no one to stand up for them. The 27 year-old founded the organization “Safe Engage Foundation ”with which she goes to the communities to talk to children, parents and teachers, to convince them of the cruelty. When genital mutilation occurs, the clitoris and labia become partially or completely away. In particularly severe cases, the entire external genitalia is cut off and sewn back up except for a hole the size of a matchstick. The circumcised women torture themselves throughout their lives with physical and psychological pain. Not only in Africa, but also in Asia and the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia: Manal al Sharif

Manal al Sharif becomes famous in Saudi Arabia in 2011 with a shaky cell phone video that she films in an apparently banal activity: she is behind the wheel of a car. At the time, the autocratic monarchy was the last country in the world where women were prohibited from driving a car.

Manal al Sharif.
Manal al Sharif. Photo: Andreas Gebert / dpa

The eight-minute recording shows Sharif, an IT consultant, driving through the streets of the Saudi city of Khobar. She speaks to her friend and co-activist Wajeha al Huwaider, says things like: “We want change in our country” and: “A woman deserves the same rights as every man.” And she is optimistic. “Things will change – God willing.” A lot has happened since the video went viral. Initially, the Sharif admission jailed for eleven days. The repressive regime accuses her of “inciting public opinion against the state”. When she is released, she leaves the country because of death threats. But Sharif’s video fired the Saudi “Women2Drive” movement. And even after her emigration, the activist remains part of the movement, campaigning for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. 2018 the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – de facto the most powerful man in the country – allows women to drive. Nevertheless, he continues to take decisive action against critics of the Kingdom. According to Amnesty, some women’s rights activists, such as Loujain al Hathloul, have been detained for several years, relatives report torture. Sharif now lives in Sydney, has written a book about her experiences and is committed to Women in their country of origin…Manal al Sharif is now considered one of the most important women rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

These four women have a mission

Ethiopian human rights defender Bogaletch Gebre has passed away

November 13, 2019

Ezega.com reported on 6 November 2019 the deatch of the highly-awarded woman human rights defender Bogaletch Gebre, founder of KMG Ethiopia (Kembatti Menotti Gezzima-Tope).

Bogaletch Gebre was a victim of female genital mutilation at the age of 12 and was forbidden from joining formal education, which forced her to sneak out of her home to attend a missionary school that paved the way for her to be what she became. Following her elementary years at the Missionary school, Bogalech Gebre attended various local schools as well as some prestigious Higher Education Institutions abroad.

In an interview with ETV, she said the trauma of FGM took her years to recuperate and she suffered complications from it years later. It wasn’t during her youth years Bogaletch Gebre learned more about what had happened to her and her family because of FGM. At the time Bogalech was a graduate student in the United States. When Bogaletch Gebre found out that FGM was needless and harmful practice, she became incensed. She eventually left her PhD program in epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and in 1995 she returned to Kembata Tembaro, her hometown in Ethiopia.

In 1997 she and her younger sister started KMG, an indigenous Resident Charity Organization with the goal of helping to create an environment where the values and rights of women are recognized and where their talents and wisdom are nurtured. The organization was founded with the two sister’s belief that if women are empowered and their talents nurtured, the lives of both men and women would improve.

Bogalech Gebre along with her sister began implementing their plans in the region of Kembatta – Tembaro. The organization they founded is now diversified its scope and operates in additional 24 of Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Regional State (SNNPRS) and Oromia district, reaching out to more than 481,289 direct and 2,859,500 indirect beneficiaries, 70% of whom are women.

The realization of their effort has protected many girls from going through lasting complications. Bogalech Gebere believed and spoke about the need for a change and bringing together all communities, women, and men to make informed decisions.

In 2010, the Independent newspaper characterized her as “the woman who began the rebellion of Ethiopian women.” In particular, the Independent report praised her for KMG’s strong commitment to reduce the rate of bridal abductions in Kembatta and FGM. Bogalech Gebre was awarded the 2005 North-South Prize, in 2007 the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights and in 2013 both the Bruno Kreisky Award and he King Baudouin International Development Prize.

The EU lists 3 finalists for the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

October 9, 2019

Following a joint vote by MEPs in the Foreign Affairs and Development committees of the European Parliament on Tuesday, the finalists for the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:

The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (President and political groups’ leaders) will select the final laureate on Thursday 24 October. The prize itself will be awarded in a ceremony in Parliament’s hemicycle in Strasbourg on 18 December.

For more on the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and two other awards in the name of Sakharove, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/sakharov-prize-for-freedom-of-thought

For last year’s award see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/27/ukrainian-filmmaker-sentsov-wins-eus-sakharov-prize-for-human-rights/

Several people who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity expressed surprise that Navalny had not been shortlisted.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20191008IPR63719/sakharov-prize-2019-meps-choose-the-finalists

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-activist-navalny-not-on-sakharov-prize-shortlist/30206166.html

One million $ for Waris Dirie and her fight against FGM

February 17, 2019

Some prizes come with serious money such as the 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize. On 9 February, 2019 PRNewswire reported that Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of the Korean Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) awarded one million dollars (USD) to this year’s Sunhak Peace Prize laureates, Waris Dirie and Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, as part of her philanthropic work. The biennial award honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the peace and welfare of future generations. The award ceremony took place on 9 February 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.

Waris Dirie, model and human rights activist, brought the violence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on the world stage by raising FGM as an international human rights issue and assisting in passing a UN resolution banning its practice. The Sunhak Committee acknowledged Waris Dirie’s achievements in advocating for the rights of millions of women and girls in Africa.

Thank you for your recognition. Thank you for everything that comes with it, this beautiful peace prize. It’s all I dreamed [of] as a child. All I wanted was peace and to receive this, this is a great gift to me…You giving me a peace prize, it’s because I believe in peace,” stated Ms. Dirie during the press conference.

As a victim of FGM herself, having been circumcised at the tender age of five in Somalia, she quit a successful career as a supermodel and dedicated the past 25 years to making FGM a recognized worldwide human rights crisis. She served as UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation from 1997 to 2003.

Her advocacy focuses on education as the fundamental key to eradicating FGM and empowering women and girls to have the knowledge they need to protect themselves. She emphasizes the fact that until women have equal respect, there cannot be lasting peace. In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation, an organization aimed at raising awareness of the dangers surrounding FGM. The Foundation raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia and supports the Zeitz Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable development and conservation. She also runs FGM reconstruction surgery centers in Europe. In January 2009, she started the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights, an organization founded along with French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek.

http://www.familyfed.org/

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2019-sunhak-peace-prize-awarded-to-waris-dirie-300792771.html