Peru has one of the highest rates of reported rape in Latin America. An estimated 62% of these affect women between the ages of 10 and 17. At the same time, congenital malformations are one of the main causes of perinatal death in pregnant women. Young rape victims are particularly at risk. However, abortion continues to be illegal for all women – apart from when their life is at risk, which is very difficult to determine.
Manuela Ramos has worked on this issue for over 40 years. Two years ago it supported a key initiative when, along with other groups, it presented in the Congress of the Republic a bill that decriminalizes abortion in cases of rape or fatal fetal abnormality.
Bill 387 was supported by various congresspeople and other feminist organizations. It included public policies which promoted the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents through the provision of differentiated and integrated services and which also provided for comprehensive sexual education in schools, based on scientific evidence and from human rights and gender equality perspectives.
The bill also proposes legalizing abortion and ensuring the provision of support services for survivors of violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation.
It is hoped that further support can be built for this bill so it will be debated in parliament during the coming months and end this epidemic of women being forced to continue with pregnancies against their will.
During a recent medical examination 21 year old Sia found out that she had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) as a young girl. Her genitalia were sewn up and she was left with a tiny hole to urinate and menstruate. For many years she had experienced excruciating pain. During the examination her doctor also found a stone in her bladder, which has been making things even worse. She needs urgent medical treatment.
Sia is currently staying at a shelter run by the Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM), a front line organization which works to end FGM in Sierra Leone, where almost 90% of women have been affected. AIM runs a safe house for girls fleeing FGM and teaches them about its harms. It is extremely dangerous work in an environment where it is often part of secret society initiation and seen as a rite of passage to adulthood.
Sia underwent FGM as a young girl
I’m writing to you to ask you to make a contribution to our Efua Dorkenoo Fund to End FGM to help women like Sia get the medical treatment they so urgently need and to help protect the 3 million girls who are currently at risk of it happening to them around the world. You can make a real difference in the lives of these girls.
Rugiatu Turay (Amazonian Initiative Movement, Sierra Leone), Agnes Pareyio (Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, Kenya), Hawa Aden Mohamed (The Galkayo Center, Somalia)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a severe form of violence against girls and women which includes partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is one of many human rights abuses used around the world to subjugate women, denying them equality. In its most extreme form, infibulation, the external genitalia are completely removed and the remaining skin is stitched together. FGM can have severe and lifelong medical and psychological effects, and many girls die from hemorrhage or infection as a result. According to UNICEF, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in at least 29 countries. On the African continent, more than three million girls are estimated to be at risk of FGM.
Donor Direct Action officially launched the Efua Dorkenoo Fund to End FGM in 2017. A leading figure in the movement Efua passed away in October 2014 after a lifetime of successful activism, which moved the agenda forward and brought much greater awareness to the harmful effects of FGM.
However, funding to those front line groups that have been working hard to end it has remained woefully inadequate. The Fund currently supports three grassroots organizations working on the front lines of the movement to end FGM:
In Somalia the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD) was founded in 1999 by Hawa Aden Mohamed. In a particularly difficult environment where 98% of women and girls have undergone it Hawa has been making an incredible difference by protecting thousands of girls at risk and transforming their lives through education.
In Kenya, Agnes Pareyio founded the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative (TNI) to provide a safe house for girls running away from FGM, as well as education and other support. TNI also works to reunite girls with their families after securing their commit not to cut them.
In Sierra Leone, Rugiatu Turay founded the Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM) to ensure that girls at risk are protected in a country where 88% of girls and women have been subjected to it, often in the context of initiation rites.
These inspiring activists help young girls avoid FGM and provide safe spaces for them when they run away from it. They need your urgent support to continue their life saving work.
LISTEN TO MERYL STREEP READING ALICE WALKER’S TRIBUTE TO EFUA DORKENOO
Rachel Moran was coerced into sex work in her early teens. She campaigned strongly for a new law, brought in last year, to criminalise the buying of sex. She tells Ryan why she believes a failure to fully enforce this new law is making the sex trade more dangerous.
Hundreds of Nigerian girls have been kidnapped in recent years – at Chibok in 2014 when 276 were taken and more recently at Dapchi in north-eastern Nigeria, where a further 110 were abducted just days ago.
Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) in Nigeria has a clear plan of action. They are using International Women’s Day to amplify the call for the rescue of the abducted girls, to work for passage of gender equality legislation, and to mobilize citizens to hold the Nigerian government accountable.