Africa: Horn of Africa Seeks FGM Consensus

UNICEF, the Government of Djibouti and an international non-profit organization 'No Peace without Justice' are organising the meeting under the theme: "Towards a political and religious consensus against Female Genital Mutilation."
Governmental and non-governmental organizations in the Horn of Africa countries will hold a two-day conference in Djibouti on how to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Theologians from Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt, will join Imams and sheikhs in the sub-region at the conference to disavow any Koranic backing of the FGM practice.

According to its organizers, the conference will be an opportunity to celebrate the will and consensus of the Government and religious authorities in favour of abandoning harmful traditional practices, which still affect around 98 per cent of the female population in Djibouti.

Conclusions of both sessions will be presented at the plenary closing session, where the Government of Djibouti will present its instrument of ratification of the Protocol on Women's Rights to the African Union (AU).

The Protocol, which the AU Heads of State and Government adopted on 11 July 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique, stipulates in Article 5 that FGM should be prohibited and condemned.

It requires ratification by 15 State parties to enter into force, but as of 7 January 2005, only five States had ratified the Protocol.

The conference pursues two crucial goals. At the political level, it would make Djibouti the first country in the sub-region with a dominant tradition of FGM to commit itself to the application of the principles of the Maputo Protocol.

At the religious level, the conference would be a success by gathering the highest religious authorities from Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, to deny any justification that FGM could be based on the Koran.

Panafrican News Agency reported in Push Journal 25/Jan/05
Source: Push Journal
Source Date: 25/Jan/05