In the photo, founding president of the Inter-African Committee (IAC) Berhane Ras-Work and activist/publisher Tobe Levin chat after their high level panel on FGM (UN Commission on the Status of Women) in March 2012.
Despite Hillary Clinton’s courageous reference to “female genital mutilation” in her 1995 speech at the UN’s 4th World Women’s Conference in Beijing, it was not until this year that, for the first time, the U.S. State Department finally acknowledged Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation Day. Since 2003 it has been officially observed in Africa and Europe on February 6, birthdate of the Inter-African Committee that ‘invented’ the occasion. The IAC did so to emphasize that mainly under-aged girls’ genitals are maimed, not merely ‘cut’; and to ensure that African activists’ voices are heard above North American policy-makers’ who prefer to “decorate the truth,” in Lucy Mashua’s words, to disguise the practice’s brutality. You can observe the conflict in discourse unfold in all its irony during the February 16, 2012, State Department event. Representative Joseph Crowley (who, with Rep. Mary Bono Mack, introduced HR 2221, The Girls’ Protection Act); German activist Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, founder of WADI that fights FGM in Kurdistan; Zeynab Eyega, MSc., executive director of Sauti Yetu; an anonymous caller from Mali, and UnCUT/VOICES Board Member Lucy Mashua challenged the refusal of some State Department panelists to acknowledge the full extent of harm. Lucy Mashua insists that, as a victim, her genitalia had been gravely injured. In Blood Stains, Khady backs her up. Mashua’s eloquent contribution begins around 1:02:24 in this link: http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/clinton_zero_tolerance_fgm_2012 See also http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mashua-Against-FGM/225406701415