Egypt urged to end silence over FGM

In this photo taken on February 20, 2017, toddler Salsa Djafar (C) is dressed up by her relatives in Gorontalo, in Indonesia's Gorontalo province, before taking part in a circumcision ceremony with her family. (AFP)
Updated 05 April 2017

Egypt urged to end silence over FGM

LONDON: Silence around female genital mutilation (FGM) in Egypt is costing lives, campaigners warned on Tuesday ahead of the traditional “cutting season” when thousands of girls are expected to undergo the ancient ritual.
They called for better sex education in schools and urged clerics to talk about FGM at Friday prayers.
National data suggests almost 90 percent of girls and women in Egypt have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia.
Egypt banned the practice in 2008, but it remains widespread with around three-quarters of procedures carried out by health professionals, a report by anti-FGM group 28 Too Many said on Tuesday.
There has been mounting concern following the deaths of several girls during botched procedures, including a teenager who bled to death in a hospital last May.
“The silence around the harmful practice ... has cost too many Egyptian girls their lives,” said Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, a leading voice on women’s rights in the Arab world.
Egypt, which has the highest number of women affected by FGM in the world, strengthened its law last year, but 28 Too Many said convictions were rare and sentences light. It called for law enforcement officers and community leaders to be especially vigilant during the cutting season which peaks in May and June.
Campaigners said a lack of sex education and information about FGM were preventing its eradication. The report said FGM in Egypt was often carried out in the name of religion and perpetuated by a “pervasive idea that women are ‘oversexed’.”

Palestinians welcome Biden decision to reverse Trump policies

Updated 28 January 2021

Palestinians welcome Biden decision to reverse Trump policies

  • Trump halted US economic aid to the Palestinian Authority, worth $200 million

ATLANTA: Palestinian leaders have welcomed the announcement that US President Joe Biden plans to resume diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and restore US aid for the Palestinian people.

Richard Mills, the acting US ambassador to the UN, told the Un Security Council that the Biden administration intends to fully restore diplomatic relations and reinstate economic and humanitarian aid that was blocked by the Trump administration.

Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said that President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh welcome the announcement, which emphasized US support for a two-state solution and the importance of a return to negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

He added that the Palestinian leadership is keen for negotiations to resume, based on mutually agreed UN resolutions and the principles of international law that demand an end to Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

“We are ready to resume diplomatic negotiations with Israel, with the help of international parties, based on international laws and UN resolutions,” he said. “Any solution, however, that does not take into account Palestinian rights as enshrined by international laws and UN agreements will fail.”

Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that Palestinians realize the Biden administration has signaled a clear break from Trump’s policies, while also being aware of its continuing, unequivocal support for Israel.

“What the Palestinians really want is a clear path toward ending the Israeli occupation and the establishment of their state, not a policy of conflict management in the way it was done for eight years under the administration of former President Barack Obama,” he said.

Trump halted US economic aid to the Palestinian Authority, worth $200 million, and more than $350 million of humanitarian aid provided through the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), after Palestinian leaders rejected Trump administration policies they believed denied the Palestinian people their rights and violated previous international agreements.

Mills said the decision by the Biden administration was made to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis.

“We do not view these steps as a favor to the Palestinian leadership,” he said. “US assistance benefits millions of ordinary Palestinians and helps to preserve a stable environment that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis.”

He also stressed the Biden administration’s “steadfast support for Israel” but added that it will support efforts to reach a mutually agreed two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.

Democratic US Congresswoman Marie Newman, who represents Illinois’s 3rd congressional district in the House of Representatives, said that the decision to restore ties with the Palestinians is a step in the right direction on the path to peace and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis.

“I am extremely hopeful that with the new Biden administration’s intentions and efforts to re-establish UNRWA funding, oppose illegal land annexation, and resume peace talks with the Palestinian leadership, that we will have a clearer path to peace, justice and prosperity in the region for both the Palestinian and Israeli people.”

Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem during the 1967 war and has refused to abide by numerous UN resolutions calling on it to end the occupation. In 1994 the Israelis and Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords, which stipulated the end of the occupation and the eventual establishment of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Under the Trump administration, the US government in 2017 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved its embassy there from Tel Aviv, in violation of international law that does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the holy city.

* Follow Ali Younes on twitter @ali_reports