Anbsence of law: the case of Mali

In Mali, one of the 6 African countries that currently have no law prohibiting FGM, work is being organized in order to produce a preparatory document for the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Court of Justice and to feed into 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:
 
To prepare the case against Mali before the ECOWAS Court of Justice concerning the absence of legislation against FGM/C in Mali, this is the general objective of a meeting called “Case IdentificationWorkshop in view of the questioning of Mali before the ECOWAS Court for the adoption of a law prohibiting FGM/C” which was held this Saturday, July 27, 2019 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 excision, this meeting, which brings together several actors and associations fighting against FGM, touches on a very sensitive issue and always generates a lively debate between two camps, namely the pros and cons of 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 Balloof AMSOPT, a member of the community, explained the purpose of their approach. Mali, although having ratified various regional andinternational instruments condemning FGM, has not transposed its commitments into national legislation. This gap poses a problem for the region, motivating the practice of cross-border FGM. Therefore, the objective is to bring a lawsuit against the MalianState 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 an exchange 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/C in Mali started in the 1960s; therefore we have spent more than 50 years informing and sensitizing Malians about the health harms 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 regionaland international conventions and treaties protecting women and children: CEDAW, CRC, CADBE, Maputo Protocol, etc. Notwithstanding these commitments, Mali has not passed specific legislation prohibiting the practice of excision, so that some families fromneighbouring countries that have legislated in this area come to excise on our territory.
Thus, at the level of AMSOPT, we have thought with 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 advocacy actions with the government and members of parliament do not gather enough support to go ahead with the law, 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 get together, define strategies, put together our arguments with the testimonies of FGM survivors, and update certain data and information about Mali (we got together to put together a relevant file with a good chance of success before the ECOWAS parliament).
 
For this cause we hired a Malian lawyer who will work with AMSOPT and all the actors involved in the fight against excision 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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