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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid