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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More