|© UNICEF Senegal/2006/Bakker|
|On a November 2006 visit to Senegal, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman (centre) met with community leaders who have been active in efforts to end female genital mutilation.|
NEW YORK, USA, 6 September 2007 – In an opinion piece yesterday in the Modesto Bee, a daily newspaper published in her home state of California, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman assailed female genital cutting as “one of many harmful practices that have their roots in discrimination” against girls and women.
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Ms. Veneman highlighted the cases of two young girls in Egypt who died as a result of genital cutting this summer. “About 3 million girls are cut each year, and an estimated 130 million women have undergone the procedure,” she added.
Other destructive and discriminatory practices cited by Ms. Veneman included so-called ‘honour crimes’ and child marriage.
Any effective strategy to end such abuses has to include community-based approaches like those adopted by Tostan, a UNICEF-supported non-governmental organization in Senegal, Ms. Veneman argued.
“Tostan works with communities in local languages to help provide women with a voice in decision-making,” she wrote. “This approach has been put into practice in hundreds of Senegalese villages — with great success.”
According to Ms. Veneman, who visited the Tostan programme last year, “nearly a third of the 5,000 communities in Senegal have abandoned female genital cutting and many have moved away from child marriage.”
Through collective action encompassing efforts like these, Ms. Veneman concluded, “female genital cutting and other harmful practices that subjugate young girls must be consigned to history.”
From the Modesto Bee: 'How African women are winning fight vs. female circumcision,' by Ann M. Veneman
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