Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation

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Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation is a global campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM).[1] It is the oldest international organization to work exclusively on eradication of female genital mutilation. The campaign links grassroots activism in countries that still practice FGM to each other to foster communication, information and strategy sharing. The mission of the campaign is to encourage grassroots campaigns to end female genital mutilation, and ensure that countries practicing FGM adopt a definitive strategy to end FGM and provide protection to women and girls who flee their countries for fear of being mutilated.[2] As a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the campaign strives to strengthen the fight against FGM by uniting all grassroots campaigns and encouraging in-country corporations to support them through women's economic empowerment initiatives.[3][4]


In the 1960s medical practitioners in FGM practicing countries started to speak out against the practice citing health concerns. By 1997, formal research had been done by the World Health Organization on the health consequences of FGM which is practiced mostly in Africa. After WHO found that over 30 million women in Nigeria had undergone some form of genital mutilation,[5] in 1998 the campaign against Female Genital Mutilation was established in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, to give all those standing against FGM in Nigeria a unified voice.[6] Soon after in 1999, the campaign was recognised as a millennium mover and shaker.[7] That same year the First Lady of Nigeria, Stella Obasanjo became the spokesperson for the campaign and launched it to international reach, starting grassroot campaigns in Chad, Sudan, and Central African Republics which made the campaign the first international organization to work exclusively on eradication of female genital mutilation.[8] On February 6, 2003, Mrs. Obasanjo declared February 6, the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and called for stronger collaboration in African countries on the campaign against female genital mutilation. Since then, the UN has recognized February 6 as an awareness day marked every year by the international Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation and anti-FGM campaigns around the world.

Campaign strategy[edit]

Founded by African women physicians, the campaign focuses on health education instead of activism.[9] Dr. Bintu Adamu, a CAGeM campaign manager, noted that the slow rate of eradication is due to the western activism approach to eradication which is culturally insensitive and is often unwelcome by practicing communities. Dr. Adamu stated that CAGeM's success in eradication is due to its understanding of African cultures and how Africans respond to western ideals of human rights.[10] Men are specially targeted for educational campaigns since a lot of reasons for continuing the practice is based on ideals encouraged by men such as marriageability, faithfulness, and the desire for virgin brides. In recognition of the fact that the pressure to circumcise is encouraged by the professional practitioners who depend on the practice for a living, CAGeM implements alternate career training programs to prevent economic sustainability of the practice. Girls who escape mutilation are also housed in safe houses, given room and board, as well as free primary and secondary education.[11] Campaigns have been established in twenty countries and has resulted in eradication in thousands of communities.[3] To eradicate female genital mutilation in the United States, the campaign established an office in New York and is currently the only organization exclusively working on eradication of female genital mutilation in the United States.[12] Although the practice became a federal crime in 1997 in the United States, it is still practiced by immigrant communities.[13] CAGeM has launched a project to create educational programs against female genital mutilation in all 50 states.[3]

Current Status[edit]

Since the campaign began, many communities have abandoned the practice. Several FGM practicing communities continue to campaign against female genital mutilation.[14][15][16][17] In addition to African countries, the campaign has expanded to Europe [18][19] and America where immigrant communities still practice FGM. On February 6, 2012, the international campaign against female genital mutilation which adopted the acronym "CAGeM" in 2011, hosted the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation awareness event in New York with Amnesty International New York City Women's Human Rights Action Team.[3][12][20] The event highlighted the progress of the global campaign and Anti-FGM laws in the United States including the status of the Girls Protection Act of 2011 which protects girls from being removed from the United States to be genitally mutilated.[21] The bill was introduced on June 16, 2011 and referred to the subcommittee on crime, terrorism, and homeland security on August 25, 2011, but was not passed. However, the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act was passed in January 2013 and prohibits knowingly transporting a girl out of the U.S. for the purpose of undergoing FGM.[22] The campaign has also expanded to providing free treatment, including obstetric fistula and clitoral reconstructive surgery to victims of female genital mutilation especially in Africa were local women cannot afford the procedure.[11][12][23][24] Miriam Kone from Mali who was genitally mutilated as a child and was a speaker at Their Voice: A National conference on eradication of female genital mutilation, hosted by CAGeM at the New York Academy of Medicine, is one of the survivors awaiting clitoral reconstructive surgery.[24][25][26] Kone stated “I have been thinking about it for nine years and I think it is enough time for me. I can’t wait to try it and feel like a real woman again, because other women who have been through the surgery talk about experiencing the joy of orgasm for the first time." [24] The procedure, developed by French surgeon Pierre Foldès has been clinically proven to allow women who have undergone female genital mutilation with Clitoridectomy, to achieve clitoral orgasms and reduce pain.[27][28]

Although the campaign has had success with establishing anti-FGM laws in several countries, enforcement continues to be a major challenge of the campaign.[29][30][31] A recent walk at Riverside Park organized by CAGeM, the first on female genital mutilation in the United States, sought to bring attention to the practice in New York by immigrant communities and also raise awareness on the critical situation in Egypt.[32]


  1. ^ "Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation". 
  2. ^ "About the Campaign". CAGeM Mission. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "International Women Rise to Action Against Female Genital Mutilation". Salem News. March 9, 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Participants and Stakeholders". United Nations Global Compact. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Nigeria: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC)". US Department of State. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Genewari, Tonye (September 24, 1998). "Women's group speak out on female circumcision". The Tide. 
  7. ^ Fuller, Bonnie (October 1999). "Millenium movers and shakers". Glamour Magazine. 
  8. ^ Ezewoke, Julius (November 18, 1999). "First Lady launches international campaign against female genital mutilation". The Punch. 
  9. ^ Robertson, Paul. "Beating female genital mutilation 'will take education not activism'". International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Okilo, Tonye (March 22, 2001). "Western Perspectives on Female Circumcision". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ a b Okioma, Aherhoke (March 16, 2012). "NAWOJ, CAGeM canvass against genital mutilation". Nigerian Pilot. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Maclayton, Iyeba (March 7, 2012). "CAGeM-Fighting to Stop the FGM Clock". The Pace Chronicle. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Clinton, Hilary. "International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting". US Department of State. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Senegalese communities join the campaign against female genital mutilation". United Nations. 
  15. ^ "The Gambia joins the campaign against female genital mutilation". 
  16. ^ "Burkina Faso Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation". 
  17. ^ "Campaign Against Female Circumcision intensifies in Ethiopia". 
  18. ^ "European Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation". 
  19. ^ "New Dutch campaign against female circumcision". 
  20. ^ "Link to Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation International Day Against FGM Event". USAID. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "H.R.2221.IH Girls Protection Act". Library of Congress. 
  22. ^ Hassan, Yasmeen. "As Global Consensus Accelerates, Obama Strengthens Federal Law Protecting Girls in the Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation",The Huffington Post, 3 January 2013.
  23. ^ "NAWOJ Partners Group To Fight Female Genital Mutilation". The Tide. March 15, 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c Azango, Mae. "'Can't Wait to Feel Like a Real Woman Again': Clitoris Reconstruction for African Pair". Front Page Africa. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  25. ^ "National Conference Raises Awareness Over Continuation Of Female Genital Mutilation". Yahoo News. May 29, 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  26. ^ "Their Voice". New York Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  27. ^ Foldes, Pierre; Beatrice Cuzin; Armelle Andro (14 July 2012). "Reconstructive surgery after female genital mutilation: a prospective cohort study". The Lanclet 380 (9837): 134–141. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60400-0. PMID 22695031. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  28. ^ Barclay, Elizabeth. "Surgery Restores Sexual Function In Women With Genital Mutilation". NPR. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  29. ^ Rahman, Anika (2000). Female genital mutilation: a guide to laws and policies worldwide. ISBN 1856497739. 
  30. ^ Rickman, Dina (August 8, 2012). "FGM: Police Stand Accused Of Failing To Protect Girls From Child Abuse As Fresh Evidence Emerges". Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  31. ^ Rickman, Dina (8 August 2012). "FGM: Police Stand Accused Of Failing To Protect Girls From Child Abuse As Fresh Evidence Emerges". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  32. ^ Odigie, Adesua (12 September 2012). "New Yorkers Walk to End Ritual Cutting of Girls". Women's eNews. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 

External links[edit]


Heredia, Paula. Africa Rising: The Grassroots Movement to end Female Genital Mutilation. 2009.