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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michigan Case: Decision on FGM sends Negative Message to Survivors and Women and Girls at Risk
Statement from There Is No Limit Foundation
There Is No Limit Foundation, a survivor-led non-profit organization and member of the US End FGM Network, is deeply concerned and alarmed by the decision of United States District Judge Bernard Friedman to dismiss charges in Michigan against the individuals—including two doctors— accused of subjecting nine girls to female genital mutilation (FGM.) We demand the appeal of this decision by the United States government in order to ensure the safety of over 500,000 women and girls at risk in the U.S.
We want to clarify that this ruling addressed Congress’ authority to pass the federal law on FGM. In addition, we are reinforcing that the current outcome does not endorse FGM; it is not a basis for carrying out this practice.
FGM continues to be a violation of human rights by global standards and a crime in many states within the U.S. This practice presents great risks to the physical and emotional well-being of women and girls. FGM has no benefits and is not a religious requirement.
This practice thrives in secrecy. Judge Friedman’s decision sends a negative message to survivors and those at risk about their rights over their bodies and their protection. It has the potential to strike fear in those willing to speak out. It also threatens the significant cross-sector impact to categorize FGM as violence and abuse against women and girls.
“This ruling shows that we, the survivors, and the millions of girls at risk are alone. We cannot give up on our rights to our bodies—we must continue this movement. Change will come and we must all break our silence and take action,” said Aissata M.B. Camara, Co-Founder of There Is No Limit Foundation in response to the ruling.
Mariama M. Camara-Petrolawicz, Co-Founder of There Is No Limit Foundation, said “The dismissal of this FGM case sends the wrong message to the world. We call on everyone to support us in demanding accountability!”
Coordinated national, local, global actions are necessary to combat FGM. There Is No Limit Foundation will continue to actively work with partners in the United States to provide community education and support to survivors. We will continue to work on ending vacation cutting by strategically linking global and national efforts.
There Is No Limit Foundation commits to ensuring the protection of human rights and the dignity of women and girls in the United States and everywhere. We call on everyone to sign our pledge to end FGM by visiting our website(breakthesilence.info). Survivors and women/girls at risk of FGM can contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
About There Is No Limit Foundation/Break The Silence: There Is No Limit Foundation is a 501(c)3 international organization founded by Guinean-American sisters Aissata M.B. Camara and Mariama Petrolawicz, both survivors of FGM. Our mission is to empower individuals in the poorest communities to reach their fullest potential and the enhanced sense of dignity through economic opportunities and the eradication of barriers including poverty, inequality, and violence. We work in the United States, The Republic of Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire. Break The Silence is a campaign to mobilize people worldwide to speak up and take action to end harmful practices and violence. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the greatest threats to the health, well-being, and economic prosperity of women and girls worldwide. The goal of the Break The Silence Campaign is to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Contact: ; 646-397-0792
On Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation, There Is No Limit Foundation Launches Break The Silence Week to End FGM and promote human rights
-Innovative campaign empowers people to mobilize against FGM in Guinea and the United States-
NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 6, 2018—There Is No Limit Foundation Co-Founders, Aissata M.B. Camara, and Mariama Petrolawicz, marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation today, by announcing the start of Break The Silence Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness and driving action to end FGM. In Guinea, community awareness events will be organized, as well as, the launch on national radio stations of the Break The Silence song by popular Guinean artists. In the United States, the Break The Silence Global Coalition to end FGM will also start accepting applications for membership. Media and social media campaigns will round out the week.
“We are proud to announce Break The Silence Week and the targeted activities we’ve developed to raise the visibility of FGM. Zero Tolerance Day is a reminder each year to work harder to protect women and girls’ rights to their bodies. I am grateful to my team for their hard work and call on everyone to break their silence for women and girls” said Mariama Petrolawicz, Co-Founder, and President.
Break the Silence Week will start each year on February 6 and end on February 12. The campaign mobilizes people worldwide to speak up and take action to end harmful practices and violence against individuals. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the first campaign under this banner. It’s a fun week, with a serious message, a week when people will ‘activate’ to shine a spotlight on FGM.
“Break The Silence Week is an homage to those we’ve lost to this harmful practice and a tribute to survivors like my sister Mariama and I. It’s also an opportunity for us to control how our stories are told; the same way we are advocating for control over our bodies” said Aissata M.B. Camara, Co-Founder. “This Week is important in this movement because it challenges everyone to speak up and act. I believe that Break The Silence Week will lead us closer to a world free from FGM.”
In Guinea, There Is No Limit Foundation will host a march in the community of Djene, in the region of Kissidougou. Community members will also participate in a youth-led training on FGM followed by testimonials and a community lunch. In the capital, artists who collaborated on the Break The Silence song will hold media availability. They will also visit with high-level officials to advocate for more accountability in the implementation of FGM laws.
“FGM, like other harmful practices needs to end. We need people of all socio-economic backgrounds to speak up. I have seen the impact we have made on other issues and I look forward to our continued contribution to this movement. We’ve been fighting FGM for many years and each day we get closer to victory,” said Mafoudia Bangoura, Vice President, Guinea.
Over 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM, and an additional 3 million girls are at risk each year. In the United States, it is estimated that over 500,000 women and girls are either survivors or at risk of being subjected to FGM. The Republic of Guinea has the second highest rate of FGM in the world at over 96%. FGM has no medical benefits; it’s also not a religious requirement. Some women and girls suffer from serious physical and emotional consequences as a result of the practice, including problems during child birth, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). FGM also has a heavy economic impact both for women and entire communities.
“As a man, I am proud to be an ally in this movement. I am happy see the shift in people’s attitude. I am proud to be a role model for young men in the communities we serve; I help them understand that talking about FGM doesn’t have to be a taboo. We are ready to march and to continue working to spread the message of abandonment. I know that one day, FGM will end in Guinea because of our transformative work,” said Moussa Diawara, Program Director.
In the United States, There Is No Limit Foundation will launch the Break The Silence website and start accepting applications for the Break The Silence Global Coalition. This Global Coalition is an inclusive group of organizations working together to end FGM in one generation. There Is No Limit Foundation’s goal is to make the Global Coalition the leading and unified voice on FGM. Members are tasked with raising awareness about FGM and sharing best practices while promoting the dignity and security of the people affected. Members will access capacity building training in areas such as organizing, fundraising, program development and implementation, and storytelling.
“We are launching the Global Coalition after identifying a gap in the movement. There are many segmented groups working on this issue but there needs to be more cohesion,” said Patricia Mars, Associate, Partnerships. “We are providing an opportunity for like-minded organizations to work with us on a unified message while building our capacities. This is important if we want to win this fight.”
A social media campaign will round out the week. People worldwide will participate by sharing videos of why they broke their silence and why it’s important to protect women and girls’ rights. The website provides resources people can use to educate themselves and to raise awareness about FGM.
Activities under the Break The Silence Campaign are possible through to the support of the Global Wallace Fund and other generous donors.
About the Organization: There Is No Limit Foundation is a 501(c)3 international organization founded by Guinean-American sisters Aissata M.B. Camara and Mariama Petrolawicz, both survivors of FGM. The mission of the organization is to empower individuals and families in the poorest communities to reach their fullest potential and enhanced sense of dignity through economic opportunities and the eradication of barriers including poverty, inequality, and violence. There Is No Limit Foundation has empowered over 25,000 people since 2008. The organization currently operates in the United States, The Republic of Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire.
About Break The Silence Campaign: In 2016, There Is No Limit Foundation piloted the Break The Silence Campaign series to mobilize people worldwide to speak up and take action to end harmful practices and violence against individuals. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the first campaign under this banner. The organization chose to focus on FGM because it is one of the greatest threats to the health, wellbeing, and economic prosperity of women and girls worldwide. The goal of the Break The Silence Campaign is to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).