Inspiring Change by Ending Female Genital Mutilation

Source: Performing Humanity

By Ahabwe Mugerwa Michael

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, in part because it constitutes an extreme form of discrimination. Within the practice, girls between eight and fourteen years of age are cut by elderly women who are untrained in medicine and often use unsterilized razor blades or knives. The practice, allegedly, initiates these girls into womanhood and subsequently leads to early marriages.Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.16.51 AM

FGM has no health benefits, and the harm it causes victims has both short and long term health consequences, including infection such as HIV from unsterilized instruments, psychological trauma, and, in some cases, death from excessive bleeding. Later in life, FGM can lead to complications in childbirth and increase the risk of the mother and infant mortality (1).

In East Africa, FGM is practiced by several tribes with proponents arguing that it initiates girls into womanhood and increases their chances of being married off. Other tribes believe that cutting off some of parts of the females genitalia like the clitoris reduces cases of girls and married women engaging in sex outside the boundaries of marriage. Promoters of FGM have little regard (if any) for girls and women’s lives lost or for the suffering that they experience after undergoing this cruel and life-threatening ordeal.

Despite the recently passed legislation against Female Genital Mutilation in some East Africa Community member States, hundreds of infants, girls, and women are still forced to undergo the knife. Young girls run away from their homes for fear of undergoing FGM and miss school while others drop out of school. Local political leaders shy from publicly condemning the practice for fear of losing elections; and in some cases they have even helped offenders escape being prosecuted in Courts of law. Girls and women are not informed about their rights and protection provided by the available legislations (2). My visits to communities that practice FGM in Eastern Uganda have exposed to me to the need to continuously inform communities about the dangers of the practice and to empower communities directly to take part in projects and efforts that end FGM. Such community empowerment emerges from increased investment in girls’ education, assisting local rights activists in leading anti-FGM activities, and continuously exposing the dangers of FGM through locally preferred forms such as film, and dance and drama performances, which can easily be used to engage illiterate communities.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.20.30 AM 

During my most recent trip in February to a community that practices FGM in Eastern Uganda, I met girls who had been forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation and needed collective surgery. As a result of unskilled surgical cutting, many of the girls pass urine uncontrollably and require surgery to fix their fistula. My trip inspired me to work to create positive change in these communities; and I am to help girls live in safer communities that promote their full potential as individuals. I decided to produce a film documentary about girls and women forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation in order to bring personal stories to the world about girls and women who are either at risk of being forced into FGM or those who have experienced health complications or death as a result of undergoing FGM.  I am now in my final stages to travel to Eastern Uganda, and Western and Central Kenya between April through to May to film and produce the documentary. Via Indiegogo I am raising funds to make film, organize public screenings across  East Africa, and carry out FGM campaigns that organize a procession of hundreds of Activists to deliver a petition to the East Legislative Assembly in Arusha Tanzania.  I am excited by the prospect of reaching to millions of people and inspiring change through film a to make a difference.

FGM is not only a women’s issue. Men must also actively take part in ending Female Genital Mutilation instead of promoting it, as is the case in communities that practice FGM, where men argue that it produces better wives. By educating about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation and assessing our community needs, we can then shape our own plans to completely stop Female Genital Mutilation. It’s our communal duty to protect and observe women’s rights and human rights, to end the social, cultural, and political causes of Female Genital Mutilation, and, above all, to demand for action from governments.  I am committed to lead the call for change and help girls live healthier lives.

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Ahabwe Mugerwa Michael is the founder of two nonprofits in Uganda: ICOD Action Network and Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies. He is the Uganda Ambassador for Global Minorities Alliance.

Currently he serves as an associate consultant with Praxis Consult International, working on a girl-child education program in South Sudan. He previously volunteered with Lawyers Collective as a Uganda research partner in charge of identifying, summarizing, and translating court cases that impact the right to health in Uganda.

In addition to working on ending Female Genital Mutilation in East Africa, he is a food rights advocate and change maker, and he and has 10 years in the non profit sector. Ahabwe is an experienced public speaker with who has shared work both Uganda, South Sudan, and the U.S.

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Works Cited:

(1) The World Health Organization, “Female Genital Mutilation,” Fact Sheet No. 241 (February 2014): http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/.

(2) Center for Human Rights and Policy Studies: www.chupost.org.

Image Credits:

Tracy McVeigh and Tara Sutton, The Observer, 24 July 2010.

UNICEF.

World Day of Social Justice

Very important…
Thank you

GlobeMed at Arizona State University

On Thursday, February 20th, GlobeMed at ASU took part of World Day of Social Justice by asking questions relating to water — is water a human right? Is it a social justice issue? We had two Mason jars of water – one of tap water and the other filled with lake water. Which one would you want to drink?

We asked people these questions and helped raise awareness for social justice issues stemming from a lack of access to safe water or poor sanitation.

In Uganda, 25% of the population doesn’t have access to safe water. In addition, over half the population lacks a sanitary place to go to the toilet. These two problems go hand in hand as they are part of a cycle that continues to go in circles.

How can we help? These are some of the questions that we can discuss amongst ourselves in order to…

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What the world thinks about Female Genital Mutilation

This is what some people who have signed my petition demanding firm action against Female Genital Mutilation are saying. There are hundreds of wonderful comments on the petition page, I am sharing these today.

Dowling .M.

“FGM is a barbaric, dangerous and cruel practice that must be ended for ever, NOW.”

Cynthia

“FGM should be brought to an END”

Hilary

“FGM is, quite simply, an abhorrent denial of basic human rights – however it is perceived and explained, it must stop. Thank you.”

Lisa

“Educate all citizens, empower those at risk, and end FGM”

Leigh

“It’s the 21st Century… it’s time this unnecessary cruelty was put a stop to.”

Ayana .M.

“The ritual is absolutely inhumane (unnatural, disrespectful to our mother/father creator’s creation of the female body which was created w/ perfect purpose). The act is oppressive, horrific to any child’s emotional and psychological [mental] health, and is an underhanded tactic to mold/structure from a baby, a diminished self-esteem in young girl’s by the time they reach adolescence. I know for a FACT and with good reason that this unnecessary and unproductive ritual is definitely resulting from East Africa and the Mid Sib-Saharan government’s conscious or unconscious unmet needs due to poverty, stemming from a lack of resources, embezzlement of government funds (government fraud), with the root cause being unjust [government] leadership and spiritual ignorance. U.S. Person’s of Power w/ public leadership status (e.g. Oprah Winfrey) or somebody w/powerful [amicable (peacemaking) and negotiation] leadership abilities from the U.S. needs to step up and intervene to eradicate this barbaric, senseless, uncivilized act of despondence and hate presenting itself as self-hatred and self-mutilation…”

Join us and sign the petition HERE

REFERRAL CONTEST TO END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, PLEASE TAKE PART AND GRAB GREAT PRIZES

From now until 2014 until Friday February 28, 2014 19:00 GMT, I am running a contest to see which supporter can refer in the most friends, family and followers to my campaign to end Female Genital Mutilation!  Everyone is eligible!  All you have to do is go to the campaign homepage, grab a unique URL in the “Share this Campaign” field (below the pitch video) and get the word out as best you can.  There will be two winners: one for most total referrals and overall contributions referred in (min $100) and the second winner is one who refers the second highest contributors (min $50)  Anytime anyone clicks your unique link (that you copied from the camping page and sent them) to get to our page, Indiegogo tracks that activity and “credits” you with the referral.  I can then see who has generated the most traffic to my campaign.  Whoever does so DURING THIS CONTEST PERIOD will win Either a unique and beautiful African art craft ($127 value), or special African earrings if female or a unique bark cloth wallet if male ($43 value).  

Here is the general campaign link http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stop-female-genital-mutilation-kata-the-fgm-film

Click, then grab your unique link to share!  FYI, using the “Share” tools on the homepage works as well, as it automatically ties you to your post on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Email.

WINNING TIP: Send your close friends and family a personal request to contribute to the campaign and follow up with them.

More Details – from campaign Update tab

2nd REFERRAL CONTEST AND GREAT PRIZES; GRAB ONE NOW

In support of our $3790 fundraising, I am excited to announce the second referral contest. Our first winners are listed on the campaign Updates tab. Thank you Eddy and Mario for your incredible support and helping me reach out to contributors.

I am now rolling out these fantastic referral prizes in the coming days as we push for the fundraising goal and grow our efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation.

COMPETITION DETAILS

#1 – This referral competition runs from today Tuesday February 25, 2014 until Friday February 28, 2014 19:00 GMT.

#2 – The top referrers will be ranked based on people that they have referred to my campaign and the total level of contribution from those referrals.

#3 – To start referring, share the campaign link (below the video on the campaign’s Indiegogo home page) and get your network to contribute. Send your close friends and family a personal request to contribute to the campaign. Make sure you use that link to track your referrals.

#4 – I will publish a regular board on the campaign update page

–  1st prize for the top referrer is another unique and beautiful African art craft (value $127) perfect for your living room.

–  2nd place gets a pair of African earrings if female or a unique bark cloth wallet if male ($43 value)

–  I will send a thank you note on the campaign’s update section for the first 10 referrers

–  Anyone worldwide can participate

– Please don’t worry about shipping costs for your prizes

Thank you everyone for your fantastic support.

You only have a few days, so get referring now and win one of these great prizes.  Keep watching out for other great prizes to come on Saturday March 1, 2014.

Click here to donate to my campaign to end Female Genital Mutilation

HELP ME TO PRODUCE A DOCUMENTARY FILM TO

HELP ME TO PRODUCE A DOCUMENTARY FILM TO STOP FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM). GIRLS AND WOMEN WILL GET GREAT RETURNS WITH YOUR DONATION.
There are as many as 300 girls in need of corrective surgery in Eastern Uganda after undergoing FGM in May and August last year – We are ending FGM NOW, we are saving lives.

Background

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. FGM, which is often carried out with unsterilized instruments, can cause severe health and psychological problems. In some cases, girls bleed to death or die from infections. Later in life, FGM can lead to complications in childbirth and increase the risk of the mother and/or baby dying. The practice also violates a women’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death. I think it’s our duty to protect and observe women rights, end the social, cultural and political causes of Female Genital Mutilation and above of all, demand for action from governments. As you are read this, there are between 8 and 10 million women and girls in the Middle East and in Africa who are at risk of undergoing one form or another of genital cutting and more than 125 million girls and women have been subjected to the ordeal.

Girls between eight and fourteen years of age are cut – by elderly women often using unsterilized razor blades or knives – to initiate them into womanhood and subsequent early marriages.

The girls go through harrowing experiences that include extensive bleeding, paralyzed legs and scars from the open injuries. They also risk contracting HIV/AIDS. At 12, Chepuso underwent the knife and suffered severe injuries, leaving scars that caused complications during the birth of her first baby two years later.
Unfortunately, her baby died during a difficult delivery that left her with torn vaginal muscles from the FGM scars. Since then she was always wet and smelly from passing urine uncontrollably. This fistula required corrective surgery to stop.

Donate to my efforts to produce a film documentary to end Female Genital Mutilation here http://igg.me/at/kata/x/639146

KATA – The Female Genital Mutilation Fil

KATA – The Female Genital Mutilation Film
I have been following Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in East Africa and closely followed the life of some young girls who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation or are waiting for their turn to face the old woman’s knife as its locally known. That’s why I called the film Kata, a Swahili word for cut. In April 2012, I traveled to eastern Uganda on familiarization trip to talk to girls and women who had been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation or were are risk of being forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation. I was moved by their stories and their prayers for a brighter future where they could live without fear of being forced to undergo genital cutting. I strongly believe Female Genital Mutilation is a violation of a girl’s rights to health, well-being and self-determination. Every one I talked to believes time is NOW to end Female Genital Mutilation and demand that our governments take strong measures to end it. Can I stop Female Genital Mutilation alone? NO… I realized I can’t do this alone; I must work with communities, schools, health service centers, civil society organizations , local governments and people like You. Together we have a started a journey to end Female Genital Mutilation and inspire positive change through a film documentary that I will will film and produce. Please donate to my campaign to film and produce documentary to raise awareness on the dangers of FGM and stop it. Donate here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stop-female-genital-mutilation-kata-the-fgm-film

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recog

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. FGM, which is often carried out with unsterilized instruments, can cause severe health and psychological problems. In some cases, girls bleed to death or die from infections. Later in life, FGM can lead to complications in childbirth and increase the risk of the mother and/or baby dying. The practice also violates a women’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death. I think it’s our duty to protect and observe women rights, end the social, cultural and political causes of Female Genital Mutilation and above of all, demand for action from governments. As you are read this, there are between 8 and 10 million women and girls in the Middle East and in Africa who are at risk of undergoing one form or another of genital cutting and more than 125 million girls and women have been subjected to the ordeal.
Please donate to my campaign to film and produce documentary to raise awareness on the dangers of FGM and stop it. Donate here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stop-female-genital-mutilation-kata-the-fgm-film