Healthy Tomorrow and Sini Sanuman have been working on ending female genital mutilation, or FGM, in Mali and have some encouraging news to report.
In March, the First Parish UU of Arlington chose us as their charity partner and gave us half of their offering plate. With their money, we decided to renew 3 billboards in Bamako, which had gotten faded out. One shows a terrorized girl about to be cut, with a big X through it, to be sure it’s clear we’re against it. The others show famous Malians who oppose FGM. Here is the terrorized girl billboard.
Our other big contribution has been putting the trailer to the film “In the Name of Your Daughter” on Malian TV twice, in July and August. We made a French version of the trailer of the film that shows what the police, courts and a wonderful safe house in Tanzania are doing to protect their girls, thinking that it would inspire Malians, seeing what is possible once a law is in place, forbidding this harmful practice. Here is the English version the trailer of the film, that a number of us watched here on February 6, the Internaional Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt3XdU0Fddo
Other than that, we have been keeping up the fight for hearts and minds, and for a law against FGM. Most of our people are working as volunteers, which seriously curtails what they’re able to do, but they keep working to spread the word against FGM. The NGO community and the legislators are getting tired of waiting for the Women’s Ministry to present the bill against FGM and other forms of violence against women to the legislature, and are talking about doing it without them, which would be surprising, but the Ministry is really taking its time! Meanwhile girls are being cut, although fewer and fewer, with all the campaigning going on.
A way that you can help in the campaign to get the law passed is to sign our petition to the Malian government, if you haven’t already, and share it, if you have. It’s at https://t.co/mGoeQ8ixwN. We currently have 2,448 signatures and would like to at least double that before we give it to the Malian government. Luckily, we have over 75,000 signatures of Malians to give them at the same time, which will carry more weight, of course, but we want to show that the world is watching what they do, sometime soon, we hope.
We have a new partnership with the World Food Program in Mali, that approached us, asking if we’d like to distribute food when we have our public meetings about FGM. Since so many of the people who come to our meetings are seriously hungry, we decided it would be a good thing.
On the US front, there are now 35 states that have outlawed FGM, not including Massachusetts. We have been promised that there will be a hearing in September and I will testify in favor of the bill. Even if you’ve asked your reps to support this legislation before, it would be good to do it again. The FGM bill is called S834/H3332. It outlaws the practice for residents of the state, whether performed in MA or elsewhere, and provides education to help immigrants from FGM-practicing countries decide that they don’t need to keep this practice going in their new home. To find your legislators’ contact info, go to: https://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator
Any financial support that you could offer us would be very welcome. It’s quite a long time until our rug and tree sales in December and we need to keep Sini Sanuman alive until their UNICEF ship comes in, when they will have a large staff again and be abe to operate on a larger scale. The easiest way to donate is on the website.
Here is a photo of one of our volunteers, Aminata Sira Sissoko, conducting a meeting of women in the neighborhood of Babouyabougou in Bamako, explaining why we have to let the tradition of FGM go.
Thanks for your interest in and help with our work in Mali. We are quite sure we are making a difference.
Susan McLucas, president of Healthy Tomorrow
617-776-6524, cell: 617-501-9125
14 William St, Somerville, MA 02144