International Women Human Rights Defenders Day,
29 November 2022
States must live up to their commitments to protect women human rights defenders, who are increasingly under attack and inadequately protected.
❝ The current global context of unchecked #authoritarianism as well as the rise of #populism, of corporate power and of fundamentalist groups are contributing towards closing the space for civil society. This is being done through the enactment of laws and practices that effectively impede human rights work, including the misapplication of certain laws such as counter-terrorism and public assembly laws. In this context, women human rights defenders face additional barriers of economic and structural discrimination and unique challenges driven by deep-rooted discrimination against women and stereotypes entrenched in patriarchal societies related to gender and sexuality.
In addition to the risks of threats, attacks and violence faced by all human rights defenders, women human rights defenders are exposed to specific risks such as sexual violence, defamation, intimidation, including against their family members, in order to deter them from continuing their valuable work. In 2017. Front Line Defenders recorded the killings of 44 women human rights defenders, an increase from 40 in 2016 and 30 in 2015.
Those working on rights contested by fundamentalist groups such as women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and those denouncing the actions of extractive industries and businesses that often leads to the violation of the rights of specific groups, i.e. indigenous people, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural and other marginalised communities, become at heightened risk of attacks and violence.
Women human rights defenders also face particular threats in conflict and post-conflict situations. Situations of armed conflict, and the subsequent break down of the rule of law, create a dangerous environment for women and girls. Women human rights defenders are pivotal in promoting sustainable peace, yet they are constantly excluded from peace processes and politics, often criminalised, and they experience gender-based violence, which hampers their participation in decision-making processes.
Women human rights defenders often face abuses perpetrated by non-State actors including members of their own family, community and faith-based groups, non-State armed groups, private security agencies, corporations, organised crime.
Women human rights defenders make essential contributions to the effective promotion, protection and realization of international human rights law and play an important role in raising awareness and mobilizing civil society in identifying human rights violations and in contributing to the development of genuine solutions that incorporate a gender perspective.
Women human rights defenders lead movements that have swept the globe calling for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence against women. They have flooded the streets, the airwaves, and the internet with their energy and their testimonials, bringing to light truths that are too often buried in darkness.
They are making immeasurable contributions to the advancement of human rights all over the world. They are raising their voices, frequently at great personal risk, to stand up for human rights and justice for all. Often these women are at the forefront of challenging social and cultural norms that limit women’s human rights. They take stands that are necessary to progress but unpopular, taking on the most powerful and providing support for the most vulnerable.
As United Nations human rights experts, we condemn all attacks on women human rights defenders. We are particularly concerned regarding those who have suffered reprisals for their efforts to work with the United Nations and regional bodies. Participation in the work of the international human rights system is in itself a right and must never be met with intimidation or attacks ❞ (UN Women, 2019)
Activist Genital Mutilation - Sister Fa.
Diatta began her career as a rapper in 2000, when she made her first demo tape. The following year, she performed at the Senegal Hip Hop Awards.In 2005, she released her first album, Hip Hop Yaw Law Fal.In 2008, she toured Senegal to raise awareness of the problem of FGM. In 2009, she released her international debut album Sarabah: Tales From the Flipside of Paradise.In 2011, Sarabah, a documentary about Diatta's tour Education Sans Excision (French for Education without Cutting), premiered at the human rights festival Movies That Matter.
Sarabah: Tales From the Flipside of Paradise received a lukewarm review from Jon Lusk of the BBC, who wrote that "too much of the album consists of fairly pedestrian or annoyingly sing-songy melodies that echo playground chants (like Poum Poum Pa) or seem transparently aimed at the ring tone market." In The Daily Telegraph, Mark Hudson gave the album 3 out of 5 stars and wrote that Diatta "pits her gutsy verbalising against exquisite traditional melodies on this well-crafted debut." Rick Anderson reviewed the album for Allmusic, concluding that "It's rare that a hip-hop artist balances lightness, seriousness, funk, and message as successfully as this one does -- especially the first time out.
Research on FGM in the Netherlands
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and female circumcision,[a] is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in some countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities abroad from countries in which FGM is common. UNICEF estimated, in 2016, that 200 million women in 30 countries—Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Yemen, and 27 African countries—had been subjected to one or more types of FGM.
FGM usually takes place between the ages of 4 and 12. But in some cultures, baby girls are already being circumcised a few days after birth. Also, FGM may take place just before a girl’s wedding. As a result of migration, circumcision may take place at a different age than considered normal in the culture of origin.
Origin and religion
The exact origin of FGM is not clear. In Egypt, mummies have been found of circumcised women dating from 2000 BC. The tradition is often associated with Islam. However, FGM is not mentioned in the Quran as a religious requirement, nor in the hadith. There are countries where Islam is the main religion but where FGM does not occur. Furthermore, FGM is also practiced by (Coptic) Christians and animist communities. In some regions, this pre-Christian and pre-Islamic practice has become intertwined with religion.
Female genital mutilation can cause physical, psychological and sexual problems. There is a high probability these problems will occur, both shortly after surgery and in the long term. Most problems develop after an infibulation. Women and girls do not necessary relate the health problems they experience to FGM.
In 2005, the Board of Health (RVZ) investigated whether girls were being circumcised in the Netherlands. The study focused on girls who had migrated from risk countries to the Netherlands. This small study showed that FGM does occur in the Netherlands. The RVZ estimated at the time that at least 50 girls were being circumcised in the Netherlands each year.
In 2008, TNO did a retrospective study on the prevalence of FGM in all midwifery practices. This study showed that 4 out of 10 pregnant women from risk countries who give birth in the Netherlands were circumcised.
In 2013, Pharos conducted the first prevalence and incidence study on FGM in the Netherlands. According to the study an estimated 29,000 circumcised women lived in the Netherlands and approximately 40 to 50 girls were at risk annually.
In 2017, Pharos conducted a study on circumcised women’s experiences with general practitioners in the Netherlands. An English article was published of this study: Female genital mutilation and women’s healthcare experiences with general practitioners in the Netherlands: A qualitative study
In 2019, Pharos conducted a comparison study on FGM estimates based on direct estimation and the extrapolation-model. An English article was published of this study: Estimates of female genital mutilation/cutting in the Netherlands: a comparison between a nationwide survey in midwifery practices and extrapolation-model.
Together we are committed to eliminating violence against women and girls [CEDAW arts. sixteen; DEVAW Arts. 1-4; CRC arts. 24(3), 35]
For the countries in which labia stretching is found (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe), see Nzegwu 2011, 262; for the rest, Bagnol & Mariano 2011, 272–276 (272 for Uganda).
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