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Eradicating breast ironing and FGM in Ngoketungia Division
On Friday the 23rd of August 2016, under the patronage of the governor of North West Region and with instrumental support from the British High commission to Cameroon, MAHSRA held a capacity building workshop in Ngoketungia Division – Ndop central at the Ndop community council hall.
The day’s event started with a road parade the lead to the Ndop council hall.
In line with the project titled “Legal and Social Awareness against Violence on Young Girls”, the pacesetting capacity building workshop follows a series of preparatory meetings with strategic target participants for the workshop. They include legal minds such as lawyers and magistrates; administrative and traditional authorities such as local government authorities, divisional ministerial delegates (MINSANTE, MINEDUC, MINPROFF, MINESEC, MINJEC, MINSA) ; the chairpersons of traditional councils (Bamali, Bambalang, Bamunka, Babessi); journalists; community teachers from different educational denominations such as the government, Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Islamic, and private primary and secondary schools, religious leaders reflecting the same former denominational options and other civil society group leaders from influential women groups and associations.
With dedicated focus on enlightening the strategic leaders in Ngoketungia Division through thorough steps to take in combating the ills of breast ironing and FGM, the workshop session was divided in 5 sections with five questions to handle. These were, worries on the psychological consequences on young women and girls who have suffered from breast ironing and FGM practices; the position of human rights, national law and other international norms in respect to breast ironing and FGM; the role of the traditional councils and other formal educational authorities in combatting breast ironing and FGM; the health effects of breast ironing and FGM on its victims; and the general way forward in minimizing or eradicating the occurrences of the practices.
After the presentations of group participants’ findings and professional illustrations or education on the major group working themes, the officiating authorities had the following comments to make.
The mayor on his part welcomed the participants and extended his gratitude to MAHSRA for initiated such an important workshop in his municipality and hoped that the activities continue such that the knowledge is widely spread in Ndop.
The state council for Ndop, Justice Bih Che, who sat through the workshop clarified that breast ironing and FGM are crimes punished by section 277 of the Cameroon penal code. ‘’ the sanction ranges from 10 to 20 years or life imprisonment depending on the circumstances ‘’ she said if the act is carried out for commercial purposes or the victims dies in the process she said ‘’the sanctions is life imprisonment’’. The State judicial officer noted that the workshop is very important since the practices do not cause the victim only pain but also deprive them permanently of their body parts.
The CEO of MAHSRA Dr. Kelly NGYAH did appreciate the Cameroon’s government efforts for making the events worries criminal and punishable by the country’s penal code, Dr Kelly Ngyah reminded community leaders and stakeholders present that though before now this act were consider as a way of protecting their children, it was now time to take a back turn as these are outright violation of the rights of the girl child.
The regional rapporteur for the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) barrister Agbor Nkeng said breast ironing and FGM are practices that have been condemned by the international instruments like the universal declaration on human rights and freedoms, the convention on the elimination on all forms of discrimination against women, the declaration on the rights to development, the convention on the rights of the child, and the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child, to cite but these.
The Divisional Officer for Ndop central, Poss Francis Alex, also praised the initiation of such an workshop in his administrative locality and congratulated the efforts of all the programme facilitators while noting that he is and will always be in support of all activities that coincide with the government’s will to foster community development.
Towards the end of the occasion, all participants gave in their personal communication information details for an endorsed agreement form that serves as networking platform for further follow-up and field experience sharing. The agreement forms was endorsed by the CEO of MAHSRA with a promise to continue to provide institutional support to all participants as necessary and also to build social networking platforms that links them in continuity.
Additional activity images at Girl Child Day