Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Highlights Need to End Female Genital Cutting

Watch this video, 3.55 minutes, published on abcNews, by MIKAELA CONLEY, February 16, 2012.

By the time she was 14, Oureye Sall had been sent to live with her husband in Nguerigne, Senegal. She also had a profession of sorts: She was trained to be a female genital cutter. And it wasn’t long before she was performing the customary rite of passage into womanhood for girls in her village and the surrounding region. 

But through Tostan, a nonprofit organization created to empower women in Africa, Sall later learned that those longstanding rituals cause severe physical and emotional harm to the women and girls. So she decided to abandon her profession and instead campaign against female genital cutting and child marriage throughout Senegal and other African countries. Now in her 60s, Sall remains a face and advocate for change.

During his global health initiative trip to Senegal in March 2011, Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor at ABC News, met Sall, along with Molly Melching, the founder of Tostan, who is originally from Illinois but has lived in Senegal for nearly 40 years.

Through Melching’s efforts with Tostan, women throughout the poorest regions of Africa are empowering themselves with a better understanding of the myriad of violent effects that FGM has on the body and mind.

watch 3 videos:

  • Tradition or Torture? Watch Video, 4.19 minutes;
  • Celebrate Women’s, Health Watch Video, 6.22 minutes;
  • Women’s Health Issues, Watch Video, 6.37 minutes;

… //

… “Let’s be clear, this is a deeply entrenched practice in many places,” Clinton said at the conference Thursday. “So we have to be both unrelenting in our efforts to end it and understanding about what works and what doesn’t work… We enter into this with a lot of humility.”

Nevertheless, Clinton went on to say that excusing the practice as a cultural tradition is unacceptable.

“We cannot excuse it as a private matter because it has very broad public implications,” she said. “This is such an important issue that deserves attention from the United States Congress and from leaders across the globe.”

In moving forward, Clinton said the United Nations and other partners in foreign relations and global public health initiatives will be looking at laws and resolutions, new efforts and strategies to raise awareness of the damaging practice. The Secretary of State also announced a partnership with the University of Nairobi to fund a pan-African Center of Excellence in Kenya to advance African research to address female genital cutting.

“This is not a women’s problem, this is not a women’s issue,” said Clinton. “This affects the human family, and therefore, we all have a stake in it… We want to create conditions for every child, girl and boy, to have a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.”  (full 2 pages text).

Comments are closed.