Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day; Honor those who died to protect our way of live.

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.” Ayn Ran
As a reminder, Memorial Day evolved from Decoration Day, started in 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of those who died in America's Civil War. But it was not until 1971 that Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, one to be celebrated on the last Monday in May. Monday is also Confederate Memorial Day in Virginia.  Traditionally, on Memorial Day either the president or vice president gives a speech at Arlington National Cemetery and also lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What will the official word be this year?
Given that America's armed forces remain entangled in the Middle East, consider reviewing this justification for the war from About's Guide to Terrorism, Amy Zalman. Unlike WWI and WWII, we Americans have not been asked to sacrifice at home. A different form of sacrifice is fast approaching, with oil knocking at $150 a barrel, and it's rise in price is linked to our foreign wars.
Last year, US Foreign Policy Guide Keith Porter reflected on the Vietnam Memorial, and the "imaginary line marking the spot in time" when the American consensus was that the war was "unwinnable." When the Iraq War memorial is built, where will that imaginary line lie? Have we crossed it?
Learn more about Memorial Day at Things you need to know if you plan to visit Arlington National Cemetery. What are the 11 federal holidays in the United States?

Please take a minute to sign this petition. EVERY voice, EVERY signature counts. Thx.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Desert Flower; FGM-Female Genital Mutilation, Unite for Children

Love hurt three time. Once when you are cut. Once when you marry.  Once when you give birth
African Proverb.

"Desert Flower" 

Here below is an eyewitness account of what is done to all Somali girls because men still today refuse marriage with an uninfibulated, or what is called "open", bride. And without marriage there is no future for a girl:

           Instruments used for the FMG

"With the Somalis, the circumcision of girls takes place in the home among women relatives and neighbors. The grandmother or an older woman officiates. At each occasion, usually only one little girl or at times two sisters are infibulated; but all girls, without exception, must undergo this mutilation as it is a required for marriage.
The operation itself is not accompanied by any ceremony or ritual. The child, completely naked, is made to sit on a low stool. Several women take hold of her and open her legs wide.


 After separating her outer and inner lips, the operator, usually a woman experienced in this procedure, sits down facing the child. With her kitchen knife the operator first pierces and slices open the hood of the clitoris. Then she begins to cut it out. While another woman wipes off the blood with a rag, the operator digs with her sharp fingernail a hole the length of the clitoris to detach and pull out the organ. The little girl, held down by the women helpers, screams in extreme pain; but no one pays the
slightest attention. The operator finishes this job by entirely pulling out the clitoris,
cutting it to the bone with her knife. Her helpers again wipe off the spurting blood with a rag. The operator then removes the remaining flesh, digging with her finger to remove any remnant of the clitoris among the flowing blood. The neighbor women are then invited to plunge their fingers into the bloody hole to verify that every piece of the clitoris is removed

This operation is not always well-managed, as the little girl struggles. It often happens that by clumsy use of the knife or a poorly-executed cut the urethra is pierced or the rectum is cut open. If the little girl faints, the women blow pili-pili (spice powder) into her nostrils. But this is not the end. The most important part of the operation begins only now. After a short moment, the woman takes the knife again and cuts off the inner lips (labia minora) of the victim. The helpers again wipe the blood with their rags. Then the operator, with a swift motion of her knife, begins to scrape the skin from the inside of the large lips.

The operator conscientiously scrapes the flesh of the screaming child without the slightest concern for the extreme pain she inflicts. When the wound is large enough, she adds some lengthwise cuts and several more incisions. The neighbor women carefully watch her 'work' and encourage her.  The child now howls even more. Sometimes in a spasm, children bite off their tongues. The women carefully watch to prevent such an accident. When her tongue flops out, they throw spice powder on it, which provokes an instant pulling back. With the abrasion of the skin completed according to the rules, the operator closes the bleeding large lips and fixes them one against the other with long acacia thorns.  At this stage of the operation the child is so exhausted that she stops crying but often has convulsions. The women then force down her throat a concoction of plants.  The operator's chief concern is to leave an opening no larger than a kernel of corn or just big enough to allow urine, and later the
menstrual flow, to pass. The family honor depends on making the opening as small as possible because with the Somalis, the smaller the artificial passage is, the greater the value of the girl and the higher the bride-price.  When the operation is finished, the woman pours water over the genital area of the girl and wipes her with a rag. Then the child, who was held down all this time, is made to stand up. The women then immobilize her thighs by tying them together with ropes of goat skin.

This bandage is applied from the knees to the waist of the girl and is left in place for about two weeks. The girl must remain lying on a mat for the entire time while all the excrement evidently remains with her in the bandage.  After that time, the girl is released and the bandage is cleaned. Her vagina is now closed - except for a tiny opening created by insertion of a straw or reed and remains closed until her marriage. Contrary to
what one would assume, not many girls die from this torture. There are, of course, various complications which frequently leave the girl crippled and disabled for the rest of her life."

 Excerpts from Hosken Report, Somalia Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females, Fourth Revised Edition, 1993 (Women’s International Network News)

Historical data

It is a misconception that Genital and Sexual Mutilation of females is a Islamic ritual it isn't this  it a cultural ritual.  The ritual cutting and alteration of the genitalia of female infants, girls, and adolescents have been traditional practices since  antiquity. The origin of the practice is unknown and there is no certain evidence to indicate how and when it began and propagated. Apparently, in all communities in which female circumcision is carried out, male circumcision is also present. Male circumcision is portrayed in some reliefs of the Egyptian tomb of Ankh-Ma-Hor (sixth dynasty, 2340–2180 bc) and other representations concerning different dynasties.
It is not known whether excision and infibulation shared a parallel development. With regard to the first millennium, however, the practice is documented as existing in Egypt. The most ancient authority reporting circumcision was Herodotus (484–424 bc). He asserted that the Phoenicians, Hittites, and Ethiopians, as well as the Egyptians, practiced excision. At about 25 BC, the Greek geographer and historian Strabone related that the Egyptians circumcised boys and practiced excision on girls.

Religious and health beliefs

It is not known when or where the tradition of FGM (Femal Genital Mutilation) originated, and a variety of reasons (sociocultural, psychosexual, hygienic, aesthetic, and religious) have been given for its maintenance. FGM is practiced by followers of a number of different religions, including Muslims and Christians (Catholics, Protestants, and Copts), by animists and Jews (Falashas in Ethiopia), and also by nonbelievers in the countries concerned. The practice is deeply embedded in local traditional belief systems.

In some countries, the practice seems to be more common among Muslim groups, and many people falsely believe that FGM is required by Islam. In the Ivory Coast, 80% of Muslim vs. 16% of Christian women have been genitally cut; in Burkina Faso, Muslim women have undergone FGM due to the belief that God does not listen to the prayers of uncut women. Debate has been ongoing among Islamic scholars as to whether or not Islamic teaching mandates FGM. It is now generally conceded by many Islamic authorities that there are no authenticated Islamic texts requiring the practice.
It is important to stress, however, that even though communities are aware that it is not a religious requirement, the practice continues because it serves as a way of controlling women’s sexuality. It is therefore necessary to work with women first, before approaching religious leaders, so that they become convinced of the need to stop FGM due to health consequences

FGM is considered to be a barbaric practice inflicted on women and girls in remote villages of foreign countries. This is not so. The dignity of the family, cleanliness, protection against sorcery, and guarantee of virginity and fidelity to the husband are the motivational factors sometimes cited as reasons for the practice.
One of the most frequent explanations for FGM is that it is a local cultural custom and women are often unwilling to change this habit because of its long-lasting use. Moreover, people using this kind of practice often ignore the true implications of FGM and the severe risks to health involved.
Owing to the large number of cases of FGM sometimes followed by death, the practice is now forbidden in some European countries (UK, France, Sweden, Switzerland) and in some African countries (Egypt, Kenya, Senegal). It is important to note, however, that, even though FGM is illegal in many African and Middle Eastern countries, the number of girls mutilated every year has not decreased, as the governments of these countries are unable to monitor the extent of the practice.
The United Nations, UNICEF, and WHO consider FGM to be a violation of human rights and recommend the eradication of the practice. Also, many nongovernmental organizations are trying to increase the consciousness of the need to eliminate FGM.

The solution is in the Education based in compassion, understanding and respect of the culture or religion and collaboration of community leaders.

FGM is a problem unfamiliar to most Western physicians and dermatovenereologists. The information about the underlying sociocultural beliefs and traditions is incomplete. For example, in many communities in which FGM is a traditional practice, women are reluctant to discuss sexual matters with health personnel and are shy to complain about painful intercourse or inability to consummate marriage.
In northern Sudan, women have a defibulation procedure performed immediately after marriage. This procedure is carried out by a local midwife or birth attendant and facilitates the consummation of marriage. Many Somali women living in the UK experience difficulties in obtaining such a facility. The physiologic, psychosexual, and cultural aspects of FGM should be incorporated into the training of healthcare personnel working with immigrant communities who practice FGM.
Women should be able to request political asylum on their own and not only as dependants of men. 
Girls should be made aware of the possibility of seeking help and refuge, e.g. through telephone helplines, social services, and battered women’s shelters.
It is the responsibility of politicians to meet with communities; these consultations can be employed to identify important issues, which can then be used as a basis for developing a policy framework to tackle the medical, economic, social, and legislative aspects of FGM.
Funds should be raised in order to tackle more than one aspect of immigrant women’s lives.
Dermatovenereologists, anthropologists, educators, social assistants, and health operators should be able to reach villages and districts and inform practitioners about the dangers of FGM. In order to successfully eliminate this practice, it will be necessary to act with great delicacy, as cultural beliefs are very strongly held.

In order to eradicate FGM, we believe that the following measures will be necessary.

1 Training and awareness of nurses, and healthcare workers in developed countries because international migration has increased the number of circumcised women in these countries.
2 Health education programs for immigrant communities.
3 Attempts by healthcare workers to discourage women from performing FGM on their daughters.
4 Education and prevention campaigns aimed at different target groups: adolescents, refugees, men and women of the communities involved, and healthcare professionals who work with communities with a high FGM risk factor.
5 Cultural facilitators involved in working with immigrant communities. Furthermore, intensive education on FGM should be included in the official curricula of midwives, nurses, and medical doctors, and the subject should also be tackled through publications in medical journals.

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