News / Africa

Clinton: 'Cultural Tradition' is No Excuse for Female Genital Mutilation

Clinton: 'Cultural Tradition' is No Excuse for Female Genital Mutilation
Clinton: 'Cultural Tradition' is No Excuse for Female Genital Mutilation

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that there is no cultural justification for female genital cutting, a practice that is sometimes referred to as female circumcision.

Secretary Clinton says governments and non-governmental organizations are making progress toward ending female genital mutilation, or FGM, by reaching out to those who still practice it.

In those societies, it is often justified as a way to protect a girl's purity and cleanliness.  Although Clinton said many cultural differences must be respected, this is not one of them.

"We cannot excuse this as a cultural tradition.  There are many cultural traditions that used to exist in many parts of the world that are no longer acceptable.  We cannot excuse it as a private matter because it has very broad public implications.  It has no medical benefits.  It is, plain and simply, a human rights violation,” Clinton said.

At the first State Department event marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, Clinton said religious leaders play a big role in stopping the practice in societies that wrongly believe it is a religious imperative or where it is accepted simply because it has been done for generations.

"If a person comes to know that violating human rights and the rights of women to lead a normal life is not acceptable, if the congregation will hear that from the Imam in his Friday sermon, that will empower the women and men who stand against this practice,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, the President of the Islamic Society of North America.

Nafissatou Diop is Director of the United Nations Population Fund and UNICEF joint program against female genital mutilation.  Although the practice is most commonly associated with Africa, Diop says outreach efforts must go farther.

"This is beyond Africa -- the Middle East, Colombia, Indonesia, the Philippines and, of course, migrant communities in Western European countries.  So we need to build the capacities of others,” Diop said.

Zeinab Eyega is the Executive Director of the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women.  She says the issue must be addressed differently in immigrant communities.

"We can't assume that because they have emigrated, they have brought the same social norms here.  How do parents make decisions about marriage?  What is the transnational connection between here and back home, and how is the information being shared?  Dialogue about what values and social norms do they want to continue and which ones do they want to let go?,” Eyega said.

In some areas of northern Iraq, all girls are subjected to genital cutting.

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken is the General Manager of the German non-governmental organization the Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Cooperation.  He says that this year six villages in Kurdish areas became the first to declare themselves FGM free.

"They see stopping FGM doesn't only mean stopping FGM.  It's a first step to have a better community life, to be an example for others.  It's a new concept of honor,” Osten-Sacken said.

At Thursday's State Department event, Clinton said the Obama administration is joining the University of Nairobi to establish a Pan-African Center of Excellence to advance African strategies to address female genital cutting.  She says the center in Kenya will focus on developing local solutions to end the practice and offer medical training on how to support women who have been damaged by it.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid