Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


US Threatens To Ban Somali Families Who Commit Female Genital Mutilation

Somali refugee families may be barred from immigrating to the US for performing female genital mutilation on their daughters. A spokesman from the American embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, condemned the ritual as a crime stating “the rules of cultural sensitivity do not apply here,” and announced that any family who has mutilated their daughters in the last few months would be barred from resettling in the US, according to BBC News. With the US government declaring female genital mutilation illegal in the US, Somali refugees have started carrying out the female circumcision rite, which typically happens when a girl reaches puberty, on girls as young as 2, according to BBC News.

Currently there are approximately 12,000 Somali families being held in camps in Kenya on their way to the US. The Somalis are members of an ethnic minority, former slaves who are refugees in Kenya because they are now victimized in their own war-ravaged country. The US has approved the emigration en masse of the entire ethnic Bantu group, who are being held in two isolated refugee camps in the northern part of Kenya. Aid workers at the camps there have reported incidents of mass genital mutilation. These incidents typically take place at night without any anesthetic, with the girls held down to the floor by members of their families. One aid official stated that “an aggressive public information campaign” has changed the minds of many Somalian parents.

In 2000, the World Health Organization reported that two million women and girls face genital mutilation annually. Research findings indicate between 85 and 115 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice, all of whom face possible health risks in the form of death from excessive bleeding, infection or complications during childbirth as scar tissue may block the birth canal. Female genital mutilation continues in many countries of the world and is especially common among African tribes, who claim that it is a practice encouraged in Islam. Some are said to view it as a mark of chastity, a rite of passage into womanhood, and a link to increased fertility. In March 2002, delegates at an international conference on women and Islam strongly condemned female genital mutilation, and stated that the practice was not mentioned in the Koran.

TAKE ACTION Emergency Call-In to Bush: Support Ratification of CEDAW

Media Resources: BBC News 10/1/02, 3/3/02; Feminist Daily News 8/19/02, 8/29/02;

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska. The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services. The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge. Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska. "By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read. "We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/27/2015 Los Angeles Mayor Announces Model Gender Equity Directive - On Women's Equality Day Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles, signed a progressive and inclusive executive directive to take a major step toward gender equity for the city and to be a model for other cities. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections. This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .