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USAID PRB. 4th International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGC Washington DC Feb. 6, 2007. Promotion for abandoning FGC in Benin: S trategies and results. By Claire HOUNGAN AYEMONNA Magistrate President of the Foundation Regard d’Amour

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4th International Day of

Zero Tolerance for FGC

Washington DC

Feb. 6, 2007

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Promotion for abandoning FGC in Benin: Strategies and results




President of the Foundation Regard d’Amour

Former Minister of Family, Social Protection and Solidarity in BENIN

Member of International Association of Women Judges (AIFJ)

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  • Introduction

  • Strategies for promoting the abandonment of FGC

  • Campaign results

  • Law prohibiting FGC in Benin

  • Consequences

  • Recommendations

  • Conclusion

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Overview of FGC

  • Female Genital Cutting (FGC): one of the social and economic problems to resolve in BENIN

  • 17 percent of women in Benin practice FGC (EDS 2001)

  • Highest FGC prevalence areas are in the north, particularly in Alibori, Borgou, Atacora, and Donga Departments (45 to 50 percent)

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Strategies for Promotion of Abandonning FGC

  • In 2001, government developed a plan, which included fighting against FGC

  • Department of Family, Social Protection and Solidarity was appointed as first entity responsable for FGC programme

  • Next step was the elaboration of a national programme with main objective of abandoning FGC

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Program Objectives

  • Reduce and eventually eradicate FGC in Benin

  • Improve women’s well-being

  • Contribute to the reduction of mother and infant mortality

  • Work to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

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Program Activities

  • Campaign to raise awareness funded by the government, UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF:

    • Production of info on FGC: definition, forms of FGC, consequences on women’s health

    • Public lectures with traditional, community, and religious leaders

    • Workshops with excisors, local government officers, policemen, judges, and school girls and boys

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Campaign to raise awareness

  • Training of community and medical workers, community and NGO leaders

  • Press campaigns:

    • Press conferences

    • Broadcasts on radio (public, private, rural) and TV

    • Articles in newspapers

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Framing FGC: Approaches

  • Scientific approch: FGC=amputation of a part of a woman’s genital organs

  • Legal and social approach: FGC is a

    • Violation of the constitution

    • Violation of CEDAW

    • Violation of African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

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Framing FGC: Approaches

  • FGC undermines womens’ physical integrity

  • FGC must be prohibited according to the dispositions of the penal law

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Campaign Results

  • Support of many leaders

  • In public lectures Bishops, Imans, Tribal and traditional leaders relied on Bible, Koran and customs to convince poeple that no religion can justify FGC

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Campaign Results (cont.)

  • Conversion of many excisors

  • Legal action against some excisors

  • Adoption and implementation of a special law preventing and repressing all forms of FGC in Benin

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Law Prohibiting FGC in Benin

  • Law N°2003-03 of march 3rd, 2003 prohibited FGC in Benin

  • Law → result of many years of struggle against FGC

  • Law → result of joint action among civil society – government – parliamentarians

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Who can be prosecuted?

  • Perpetrators of FGC (excisors);

  • Accomplices (people who call the excisor, who help or assist him/her, who give instructions or instruments to the excisor)

  • People who don’t do anything to prevent the act

  • People who don’t denounce the act.

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What about sentences?

  • Imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years; 20 years in case of death of the victim

  • Fine from 50.000 F CFA (100 $US) to 6 millions F CFA (12,000 $US)

  • In case of repeat offense, no suspended sentence

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Other dispositions

  • Medical staff must receive and take care of all victims of FGC

  • They must also inform law enforcement offices

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Some Consequences

  • Fewer people practice FGC, however

  • FGC has become a covert activity like abortion

  • People do it in secret

  • Either they cross the border to do it, or they call the excisor from a neighboring country

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  • All African countries where FGC is practiced should adopt a special law

  • Awareness raising must be done before and after the law is approved

  • As much as possible, organize across country borders synchronized campaigns to promote the abandonment of FGC

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  • Abandoning FGC must be considered as a long and time-consuming process

  • We need more commitment from NGOs and governments for better results

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  • Put our hands together to throw out women’s mutilation from each and every country!

    Thank you

    for your attention

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