Public declaration for the abandonment of traditional harmful practices: 20 villages of Makalondi region commit to enforce children’s and women’s rights in Niger
Niamey, Niger, 15 May 2013 - On May 15, twenty villages of the rural area of Makalondi publicly committed to abandon Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early and forced marriage, abductions, exploitation of children, school dropout and rural exodus.The commitment ceremony which took place in Makalondi, was presided over by the First Lady, Malika Issoufou, and attended by representatives from the Government, Members of Parliament, representatives of international organizations, religious leaders and traditional chiefs, as well as other guests. Through their representatives at the ceremony, the 13,654 inhabitants of these 20 villages, mainly of the Gourmantché community, publicly expressed their “unanimous commitment to abandon all harmful practices, including Female Genital Mutilation”. Each village was represented by two men, two women, two youths, two religious leaders and one traditional chief. This public statement is part of a strategy aimed at promoting the abandonment of harmful practices affecting the health and well-being of children and women, based on the belief that community-based protection fosters children’s development and self-fulfillment. This approach has been implemented by the Comité Nigérien sur les Pratiques Traditionnelles (CONIPRAT) since 2007, in collaboration with the Ministry of Population, Promotion of Women and Children’s Protection, with technical and financial support from UNICEF. Through this innovative approach based on human rights, reproductive health and the promotion of abandonment of harmful cultural practices, CONIPRAT and UNICEF strive to foster a change in social norms and behaviour. The First Lady, Malika Issoufou, who embodies the struggle against female genital mutilation in Niger, expressed “the wish to see other practitioners follow the path of the inhabitants of the 20 villages”. According to the Minister of Promotion of Women’s and Children’s Protection, Maikibi Kadidiatou Dandobi, this ceremony shows the Government’s commitment to ban the practice of female genital mutilation in Niger, and to contribute to the promotion of a protective environment for women’s and children’s rights in the country. She explained: “this firm commitment has already been turned into action, with a law voted in 2003 to ban Female Genital Mutilations, which has been enforced since 2007”. For UNICEF Deputy Representative, Isselmou Boukhary, this ceremony symbolizes a major shift in the struggle against violence in Niger. He reiterated the availability of the agency to “support the Government and to collaborate with other partners in the development of initiatives designed to implement women’s and children’s rights in Niger”. Female Genital Mutilation is performed on women and girls from 0 to 15 years of age and consists in the cutting, partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, potentially leading to serious consequences for health and strongly affecting their fundamental rights.
In Niger, where these cultural practices are still perpetrated, causing harmful consequences for the health and well-being of children and women, the FGM prevalence rate is 2, 2 % and 38% of girls are married before the age of 15. With a prevalence rate of 12%, Tillabéry is the most affected area of Niger. Within Gourmantché communities, the FGM rate was 65% in 2006.
For more information, please contact:
Salmey Bebert, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Niger;