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LJD Week 2021 | Intersectionality: Female Genital Mutilation and Racism

November 9, 2021

Virtual | Live Broadcast & Recorded



An event of the GFLJD Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Legal Working Group.

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an extreme form of gender-based violence (GBV), a specific violence against women and girls (VAWG), a sexual assault, a domestic violence, a child abuse, a human rights violation, and a development impediment that affects more than 200 million women and girls in the world with long-lasting and irreversible consequences. 

FGM is often addressed as an African issue, but it is practiced on every continent. This is also noted in how there are far more women cut women in the USA (around 520,000) than in Guinea-Bissau (around 400,000). 

The two-way intersectional forces that operate between FGM and racism must be addressed both to ensure racial equality and to end the practice of FGM by 2030. This session will bring together FGM experts and activists from around the world and will explore the ways in which inherent underlying racism is preventing the effective protection of every women and girls while leaving no-one behind; the ways in which FGM and racism’s consequences on health, education, wellbeing, social and economic development are similar and cumulative; the idea that special laws criminalizing FGM are tinted with discrimination when every country already has applicable general laws on bodily harm, injuries, mutilation, VAWG and femicide; and the idea that development actors’ general reluctance to address FGM directly can to some extent result from a span of underlying racial and gender biases.

  • Speakers


    Mariya Taher

    Co-Founder and U.S. Executive Director, Sahiyo

    Mariya Taher has worked in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) for over a decade in the areas of teaching, research, policy, program development, and direct service. In 2015, she cofounded Sahiyo, an award-winning, transnational organization with the mission to empower Asian and other communities to end FGC. In 2018, Mariya received the Human Rights Storytellers Award from the Muslim American Leadership Alliance for her innovative approach in using storytelling to engage communities in abandoning FGC. Since 2015, she has collaborated with the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association to pass legislation to protect girls from FGC. After starting a petition and gathering over 400,000 signatures, Massachusetts became the 39th state in the U.S. to do so. She also sits on the steering committee for the US End FGM/C Network. She has been instrumental in establishing the Connecticut Coalition to End FGM/C, to support CT in building education programs and passing a law against FGM/C as well. She also sits on the steering committee for the US End FGM/C Network.


    Ibu Atas

    Independent Researcher and Activist in Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)

    Atashendartini Habsjah, affectionately and respectfully known as Ibu Atas, is an inspiring women’s rights activist that has been working to end FGM/C in Indonesia since 1994, when she supported a country-level work to influence the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, while she was a lecturer of Women’s Studies at the University of Indonesia. She started collecting data since the mid-90’s with the authorization of the Indonesia Population Council, starting with West Sumatra and West Java. For the last 10 years, she has been working closely with the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Health to stop FGM/C in Indonesia and in particular the high medicalization of the practice in close collaboration mid-wives, nurses and gynecologists. She hopes that FGM will disappear in Indonesia during our generation and before 2030.


    Leyla Hussein

    Founder, The Dahlia Project and Rector, University of St. Andrews

    Leyla Hussein OBE is a psychotherapist, specialising in supporting survivors of sexual abuse. She is an international lecturer on female genital mutilation (FGM) and speaker on gender rights. She is recognised as one of the key experts on this issue globally and is a leading and award-winning international campaigner against all forms of violence against women and girls. Leyla founded The Dahlia Project, the UK’s first specialist therapeutic service for FGM survivors. In 2020, she was elected as Rector of the University of St Andrews for a three-year term, making history as the first Black woman to hold the position. She currently works as the Global Advocacy Director and Deputy Team Leader for the Africa-led Movement to End FGM.


    Bayor Chantal Ngoltoingar

    Founder, Sunshine Girls

    Bayor Chantal Ngoltoingar is from Chad, mother of a seventeen-year-old boy. She is a finance and marketing professional with an analytical and operationally oriented approach. She held a Bachelor of Arts, currently finishing her Master at the business school of the Catholic University of America. Before moving to the United States, she worked more than ten years as marketing and sales manager, then one years as branch manager at the United Bank for Africa. She is an advocate and author; she published a book on (FGM) L’obscurité sous le Soleil in France. The English version of her book Darkness under the Sun is soon to be published. She has testified and shared her experience about FGM in the U.S. Senate, United Nations Population Fund, The World Bank, and other settings. She is collecting videos for her research project to quantify the impact of FGM on girls, families, and nations from child survivors, mothers, and traditional authorities in Chad.


    Nana Abuelsud

    Programmatic and Advocacy Lead, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and Global Alliance Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ)

    Nana Abuelsud is the Programmatic and Advocacy Lead in RESURJ, realizing sexual and reproductive justice is an alliance led by younger feminists based in the global South. Nana is a feminist researcher based in Cairo with focus on generating evidence for policy recommendations on access to sexual and reproductive health services in Egypt, and motivated by her interest in knowledge production and feminist movement building.


    U. H. Ruhina Jesmin

    Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, Khulna University

    U. H. Ruhina Jesmin is Associate Professor of English Discipline at Khulna University in Bangladesh. She has been teaching English language and literature since 2012. She publishes research articles and book reviews in peer-reviewed and indexed journals and reviews journal articles for Taylor & Francis. She has been working as an editorial assistant for UnCUT/VOICES Press in Frankfurt am Main, Germany since June 2021 and currently co-editing a book on FGM. Her scholarly research articles, “Cultural and Political Paradigms of FGM: An Intersection of Race and Sex in Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy” (2019), “An Asymmetrical Dialectic of Oppression and Act of Political Warfare in Tsisti Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions” (2020), and “Continuity of Womanist Ethos: Intertextuality in Select Novels of Alice Walker” have been published by Daugavpils University, University of Suceava, University of Opole, and University of Bucharest respectively. Her research mostly focuses on Alice Walker’s novels, FGM, intersections of race, gender, and sexuality studies.


    Isabella Micali Drossos (moderator)

    Senior Counsel, World Bank

    Isabella Micali Drossos is a French and Brazilian lawyer. She joined the Bank in 1999 and has worked since then as an operational lawyer in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Region. She has a passion for issues related to gender-based violence (in particular Female Genital Mutilation and Domestic Violence) and collective happiness and well-being in development. She holds degrees in law and in economics from the University of Paris, an LLM from the London School of Economics and a PhD in international public law from the University Pantheon-Sorbonne.


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