Absence of law: the case of Mali (2019)

In Mali, one of the 6 African countries that currently have no law prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation, work is ongoing in order to produce a document for the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Court of Justice in order to prepare a lawsuit against the State of Mali.

For more information, we recommend an article from Mali 24 on “Abandoning the practice of FGM: Towards the questioning of Mali before the ECOWAS Court” from which we have taken some excerpts:
“The objective of a meeting held this Saturday, 27th of July, 2019 was to prepare the case against Mali before the ECOWAS Court of Justice concerning the absence of legislation against FGM/C in Mali. The meeting was titled “Case Identification Workshop in view of the questioning of Mali before the ECOWAS Court for the adoption of a law prohibiting FGM/C” . The meeting was held at the Hotel Coccinelle located at the racecourse in commune 2 of the district of Bamako.

Initiated by the Malian Association for the Monitoring and Orientation of Traditional Practices (AMSOPT) in partnership with other associations involved in the fight against FGM, this meeting, which brings together several actors and organisations combatting FGM, touches on a very sensitive issue and always generates a lively debate between two camps, namely those pro and those against FGM.
During this meeting participants from Mali and the sub-region discussed several issues related to the abandonment of the practice of FGM/C, namely the presentation of regional and international legal instruments prohibiting FGM. “

Brehima Ballo of AMSOPT, a member of the community, explained the purpose of their approach. Mali, despite having ratified various regional and international instruments condemning FGM, has not transposed its commitments into national legislation. This gap poses a problem for the larger region as it motivates the practice of cross-border FGM. Therefore, the objective is to bring a lawsuit against the Malian state before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in order to put pressure on the government and obtain legislation against FGM.

“On Saturday 27 July, AMSOPT, in partnership with Equality Now, organised a workshop in Mali with other Malian partners committed to the abandonment of the practice of FGM.

Our action aims to prepare the case against Mali before the ECOWAS Court of Justice regarding the lack of legislation against FGM/C in Mali. More specifically we want to initiate a lawsuit against the State of Mali to push it to legislate against FGM/C. It is important to remember that the fight against FGM in Mali started in the 1960s; therefore we have spent more than 50 years informing and raising awareness about the health risks of the practice of FGM/C and also the fact that it affects human rights. Despite our great efforts, the national rate of excision is estimated at 91% according to the 5th edition of the Demographic and Health Survey.

In addition, Mali has signed and ratified all regional and international conventions and treaties protecting women and children: CEDAW, CRC, CADBE, the Maputo Protocol, etc. Notwithstanding these commitments, Mali has not passed specific legislation prohibiting the practice of excision, so that some families from neighbouring countries that have legislated in this area come to perform FGM on our territory. Therefore, we worked alongside other NGOs/associations fighting against excision in Mali about how to change our approach. We told ourselves that we should try other things, other strategies, other tools.

Since our advocacy actions with the government and members of parliament do not gather enough support for new legislation, we thought that we should refer the matter to ECOWAS, whose court of justice will put pressure on the government of Mali to legislate against FGM. To do this, we had to come together, define strategies, put together our arguments with the testimonies of FGM survivors, and update certain data and information about Mali ( we put together a relevant file with a good chance of success before the ECOWAS parliament).

For this action we hired a Malian lawyer who will work with AMSOPT and all the actors involved in the fight against FGM, in order to defend our case before the ECOWAS Court of Justice. “

“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

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