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16.05.2007 General News

Criminal Code to nail FGM perpetrators

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The Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kwame Osei-Prempeh, has said Parliament was working on the Criminal Code Amendment Bill to deal drastically with people engaged in Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

"At first, the Act was operating in a narrow area regarding FGM but now it is going to be expanded in terms of scope to deal not only with the perpetrator of the act but any body who will involve himself in the process."

Mr. Osei-Prempeh was speaking on 'Women's Health and Reproductive Rights,' after a march organized by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights on Tuesday in Accra, to create awareness on female reproductive health.

The event preceded the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to be hosted by Ghana on Wednesday 16 May 2007.

Mr. Osei-Prempeh said currently researchers were working in the Upper West, Upper East, and Northern regions (three northern regions) to solicit information from stakeholders to enable government make an informed decision on FGM.

He also said government was taking the necessary steps to ratify and implement the additional protocol in the African Charter on the rights of Women of the African Union.

Mr. Osei-Prempeh noted that the Ministry would soon create a desk and together with the World Health Organisation monitor reproductive health issues and abuses.

Nana Oye Lithur, Regional Coordinator, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said FGM had become one of the most critical reproductive health issues spanning across 28 African countries.

She said about 135 million women have gone through the practice and that every year an accompanying two million women stand the risk of being made to go through the practice making it an unnecessary practice that must be stopped.

She said: "It is an unnecessary practice that leads to multiple emotional, physical and psychological problems for millions of Women."

Nana Lithur said the FGM was a violation of woman's reproductive rights and many governments had recognized its seriousness and affirmative action being taken to end the practice.

"FGM is more than a legal problem, therefore it will require a more societal approach to solve it," she said, adding that policies and programmes which would empower women politically, socially and economically must be instituted in the fight to eradicate FGM.

Mr. Makane Kane, UNFPA Representative in Ghana, noted that reproductive health continued to be a leading course of mortality among African women.

He called for the adoption of rights frameworks in national and international human rights documents and an active implementation of gender dimension policies to underscore the affirmation of the rights of all, particularly women.

Source: GNA

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