The government of Senegal officially ended the practice of female genital mutilation on Wednesday, thanks to years of struggle by women's rights activists, educators, doctors, and politicians. Violators of the new ban will face a maximum prison term of 5 years.
Last February, Senegal President Abdou Diouf called for an end to female genital mutilation, and asked government officials to formulate a law banning the practice. One month later, fourteen individual Senegal villages banned the practice after many local women took a course which described the health risks caused by female genital mutilation.
UNICEF director Carol Bellamy commented that the ban "reflects the resolve of African women to end a cruel and unacceptable practice which violates the right of all girls to free, safe and healthy lives."
Female genital mutilation is an often crude operation in which the genitalia of pre-pubescent girls is cut off. Health professionals testify that it limits normal bodily functions, robs girls of sexual pleasure, causes horrible scarring, and can lead to infections and long-term health complications, especially when unsterile health instruments are used.
Supporters of the practice argue that it is necessary to guarantee women's sexual chastity and faithfulness to their husbands. There is no doubt that the practice achieves this goal, since the operation makes sex uncomfortable at best, and extremely painful at worst.
The countries of Burkino Faso, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea and Togo also outlaw female genital mutilation, or its euphemism, "female circumcision."
7/27/2015 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocked Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood - An attempt in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood by Mike Lee (R-UT) was blocked this weekend by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Lee tried to attach the elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood to a vote for highway legislation, a move which was rejected by McConnell as out of order.
Republican legislators have redoubled their efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood since the release of two heavily edited clandestine videos of different PPFA employees taken without their knowledge. . . .
7/24/2015 Katherine Spillar Urges Cleveland to Dramatically Increase Hiring of Women Police to Mitigate Police Violence - In a well-received speech at the City Club of Cleveland today, Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation urged Cleveland city officials to dramatically increase the hiring of women police officers as a way to decrease police brutality incidents.
Following a number of high profile police killings in Cleveland of African Americans, and an eight-month investigation by the US Attorney's office of the Northern District of Ohio, the City of Cleveland has now entered into a Consent Decree that requires numerous reforms in how the city oversees and investigates police operations, including training in use of force.
"Among the most important reforms mandated by the consent decree - and the most easily overlooked - are the changes the Cleveland Division of Police must make in its recruitment and hiring practices,
said Spillar. . . .