UK encourages Cameroon to pass a law against FGMs

H.E Brian Olley addressing senators and parliamentarians during the June session in yaounde

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

H.E Brian Olley

Votre Excellence le President de l’Assemblé Nationale, your Excellency the Minister for Promotion of Women and the family, Your excellencies Députies of the National Assembly, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for the honour of inviting me to speak here today. It is an enormous privilege and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to address you on such an important subject.

The UK Government is committed to a world where all girls and women can fulfill their potential free from discrimination and violence. Female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage are two harmful practices which stand in the way of this vision. In the UK we are taking action against FGM and forced marriage, but there is much more to do. Globally we will not make progress unless we all work together – building on the leadership of the many developing countries whose governments and local communities are already standing up against these practices.

En Engleterre nous luttons contre la mutilation génitale depuis plus de 20 ans. Mais la mutilation est toujours en croissance en Grande Bretagne. Incroyable mais vrais. Nous voulons travailler en partenariat avec vous au Cameroon pour faire face à ces abus contre les enfants. Oui - la mutilation génitale des filles est un abus contre les enfants. Ceci est clair. Mais pourquoi est-ce nécessaire de passer une loi ? C’est une bonne question. Nous avons passé une loi en Angleterre il y a plus de 10 ans. J’ai une copie avec moi aujourd’hui. Je laisserai la copie au Président de l’Assemblée après cette réunion et vous pourrez la regarder. Ce n’est pas long. A peine 3 pages. Mais est-ce que nous avons vraiment besoin d’une loi ? Nous nous sommes posé la même question. La réponse est très clair – OUI. Nous luttons toujours contre la mutilation génitale en Engleterre. Nous avons trouvé que nous avons besoin de tous les outils possibles pour se battre contre les personnes qui veulent vivre dans le passé, qui veulent continuer à déchirer l’avenir de nos jeunes filles. Nous avons besoin d’une campagne de publicité bien sur. Le soutien des chefs traditionnels, le soutien des religieux haut placés, de la publicité à la télévision et à la radio, les articles dans les journaux. Mais en plus nous avons besoin de la force de la loi – surtout pour montrer aux personnes qui mutilent les enfants qu’il y aura des conséquences. Passer une loi c’est montrer à tout le monde que l’Etat est contre la mutilation et l’abus des enfants.

  On 22 July, the UK Prime Minister and UNICEF will host an event to bring together community leaders, grassroots organisations, governments, international organisations and the private sector to build on current efforts and rally a global movement to end Female Genital Mutilation and Early Marriage in a generation, everywhere, forever.

There will be 3 main outcomes of the event:

i) Sharing What Works - learning and celebrating success through: • Highlighting examples of successful action by community leaders, governments and others to inspire attendees to replicate; • Promoting discussions between professionals to share and embed effective practice; • Launching and funding new data and research to inform and support action to end these terrible practices.

I have seen best an excellent example of inspired action here in Cameroon. At the national day against Female Genitale Mutilation I was honoured to be invited to speak in support of Madame la Ministre pour la promotion de la femme et de la famille. The same morning I saw the Cameroonian comedians les Gue Gue Gue Internationales, oui les Gue Gue Gue Internationales, who were also speaking on the subject. They were very funny. And I have to say they were far more effective than me in getting the message across. At the end of their show no-one in the crowd could possibly not have understood how ridiculous and barbaric the act of Female Genitale Mutilation is. We need the Geu Gue Gue Internationals in the United Kingdom !

ii) Agreeing an agenda for change - securing commitments to action: • Agreeing a declaration to end FGM and CEFM within a generation; • Announcing new actions by governments, civil society groups and private sector organisations to tackle FGM and CEFM, and calling on others to make similar commitments; • Securing increased funding to tackle these issues.

iii) Engaging people for change - inspiring a generation to declare support to end CEFM and FGM, including through: • Launching a global social media campaign to raise awareness, signpost support and gather pledges; • Hosting a UK youth pre-event to engage young people.

  The one-day Summit on 22 July will bring together activists, young people, professionals and political leaders.

This is urgent. If we fail to take action internationally, within ten years it is estimated that over 15 million more girls in the developing world will marry as children, and more than 30 million will undergo FGM in Africa alone. In the UK alone, over 20,000 girls are at risk of FGM each year, and thousands are vulnerable to forced marriage. That is what is at stake, and that is why I urge you to: - Join the international movement to stop Female Genitale Mutilation and early marriage; - Encourage your ministers to engage fully in the Girl Summit in London on 22 July; - Thirdly and most important. Pass a law quickly against Female Genital Mutilation to demonstrate your and Cameroon’s determination to end this terrible abuse.

Published 17 June 2014