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Working to free girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) or excision!

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News from Healthy Tomorrow and Sini Sanuman in Mali                   February 2011

Mark your calendars, those of you near Boston, for a film screening and panel discussion we’re organizing with the Harvard Extension International Relations Club on Saturday, April 16, 4-6:30 at Emerson Hall at Harvard.  We will show the Greek documentary “Secret of the Dawn” and have a panel discussion where I will talk about our work in Mali and a doctor will talk about treating women with FGM-related problems.  The evening will start with a dance by Wyoma, expressing her hope for a better future where FGM is an initiation in the grace of Full Girl Maturation.  We will end with a music video that is used in the campaign in Mali, showing ex-excisers burying their knives in a hole.  

We’ll send another announcement when the day gets closer.  I’m attaching a flier, and I hope you will use it to help us invite people.

This collaboration is a result of the Harvard talk in November that Tobe Levin and Khady invited me to participate in, when they were touring with their book “Blood Stains: A Child of Africa Reclaims Her Human Rights.” 

In news from Mali, to celebrate the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, Sini Sanuman organized a march of hundreds of people to the gathering where many decision-makers and activists in the movement were assembled on February 10.  They carried signs and chanted slogans like “Legislators, it’s time to outlaw FGM!” and “Media, end the silence!”  The march appeared on the news on two stations.  Our people spoke three times during the gathering, including leading the large group in chants, and describing our efforts to end female genital mutilation.  We think we raised the level of urgency at this yearly gathering.

Some of the signs carried on the march were posters that we just finished - a set of 10 portraits of important people in Malian society and the struggle, with short slogans against FGM.  The posters are going up all over Bamako, the capital, and around Mali and also appear as billboards in 4 main squares in Bamako.  The portraits are of an ex-exciser, a village chief of one of the villages that have stopped excising, a victim of excision, the president of the association of griots in Bamako, a major imam, two popular singers, an un-excised girl, a doctor and a woman proud not to be excised.  The slogans are “Excision can kill!”  “Excision makes women sterile.”  “Leave girls whole!” “A girl’s body is sacred.” and “Excision is not Islamic.”

We made these posters collaborating with Mon Frere, a London-based group.   I am attaching the posters as well as a photo of them posted all together on a wall in Bamako.  They are sometimes put up in groups like this, and sometimes one by one.  We are excited to think of the effect that these new posters and billboards are having.

The meetings in market places that I mentioned last time have continued, with about 100 people a day attending.  We have 12 activists leading these meetings.  Before the gatherings, someone goes around like a town crier and calls people together; then they gather under a tent and talk about FGM and why we need to stop it.  They show images of the complications that come from the practice and invite discussion.

The legislature held another meeting about FGM in December, and seems to be getting closer to voting on a law to outlaw excision.  We certainly hope so.  They are planning a meeting with the High Islamic Council, to try to be sure that enough of the Muslim legislators are on our side, when the vote comes up.  That was the problem at the meeting in December.

Ten more excisers have become ex-excisers as a result of our continuing meetings with the famous doctor, Dr Moussa Diarra.  We find that some of our best spokespeople are former excisers, who have had a change of heart.

We welcome any contributions people care to make.  The more we have, the more we can reach out to people, in person and through the media.

Thanks for your interest in this campaign and for any help that you can offer to make it succeed.

Yours in the struggle,

Susan McLucas aka Mariam Sacko
Director, Healthy Tomorrow and Secretary General of Sini Sanuman (our sister group in Mali)
(617) 776-6524


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