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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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USAID PRB

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

By

Claire HOUNGAN AYEMONNA

Magistrate

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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Content

  • Introduction

  • Strategies for promoting the abandonment of FGC

  • Campaign results

  • Law prohibiting FGC in Benin

  • Consequences

  • Recommendations

  • Conclusion


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Introduction


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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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Recommendations

  • 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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Conclusion

  • 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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Conclusion

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

    Thank you

    for your attention


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