African MPs Meet to Discuss International Law Against FGM
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:50 AM

Members of Parliament (MPs) representing nations across Africa met on May 3 and 4 in Dakar, Senegal to advocate for a continent-wide ban on female genital mutilation. In addition to drafting a proposed UN resolution urging a worldwide ban on FGM that MPs hope will be passed by the UN General Assembly this year, the MPs shared experiences advocating for and implementing laws on FGM in their home countries. Though there are international treaties addressing this issue, such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's RIghts on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Declaration; see Article 5), the MPs believe that additional, more directed laws must be adopted. 

MPs also compiled a list of proposals they would like heads of state to implement at the July African Union summit in Kampala, Uganda.  Seventeen African nations have banned FGM but not all of these actively enforce the legislation. 

Among the lessons shared by Ugandan MP Chris Baryomunsi was the importance of recognizing that true change can take years – and even decades – to realize. In March, Uganda passed legislation banning FGM, following twenty years of advocacy on the issue by MP Baryomunsi.

Senegalese Ministry of the Family head N’Deye Soukeye Gueye noted that involving heads of states in campaigns to ban FGM is an integral strategy in gaining the support of religious leaders. Senegal, one of the earliest African nations to pass an FGM law (in 1999), has had great success, as evidenced by a 2005 government evaluation revealing that of the 5,000 villages targeted by two national NGOs (Tostan and COSEPRAT), 71 percent had ceased practicing FGM.

Togolese MP Christine Mensah highlighted the importance of international legislation. Togo, another early adopter of legislation banning FGM (in 1998), has experienced problems related to Togolese citizens crossing into neighboring countries to undergo FGM procedures. While FGM rates are just 6 percent in central Togo, they are 15 percent in border regions.

Compiled from:  AFRICA:  MPs push for continent-wide FGM/C ban, IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis, 5 May 2010.