On October 2, 2007 the president of the Malian National Assembly, Djongouda Traoré, received a delegation from Sini Sanuman (Healthy Tomorrow), which presented him with over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge Against Excision. Excision is a form of genital mutilation. The signatures were collected by 40 partner groups and individuals committed to the struggle against female genital mutilation (FGM). The president of Sini Sanuman, Siaka Traoré, and the president of one of the partner groups, Mme Sidibé Kadidiatou Maiga, shared their strong conviction with the President of the Assembly that there needs to be a law against excision soon.
Siaka showing the president of the Assembly a page of the Pledge
Sini Sanuman had been trying to get an appointment with the old president of the Malian National Assembly to turn in these signatures for over two years, according to Susan McLucas, Secretary General of Sini Sanuman.
Assembly President Traoré said, “I realize the importance of the idea of a law against FGM and am hopeful that Sini Sanuman will work with the Health Commission at the Assembly to make a proposal for one.”
Malian Health Commission representative, Fanta Magni Diarra, was present at the meeting and offered assistance from the Commissioner’s office, according to the US-based McLucas. Legislator Oumar Mariko, from the Commission of Law also offered support for this legislation. The president encouraged Sini Sanuman and its partner groups to mobilize public opinion so that a law can pass.
Sini Sanuman has given a suggested bill to the Justice Ministry, which was written by Bintou Foune Samaké from AJM, the Association of Malian Women Jurists, yet another partner group in the Pledge Against Excision.
Djongouda Traoré, Fanta Magni Diarra and Oumar Mariko all signed the Pledge Against Excision. In the space where it asks if they are in favor of a law now, they all said “yes.” The great majority of the 30,000 Malians who signed the Pledge also said “yes.”
Among the signers are many well-known Malians: ministers, mayors, more than 100 former excision practitioners, religious leaders, famous artists and a man whose daughter died after she was excised.
Most of current legislature is new. Only 25 legislators returned from the last session. Mali is one of the last countries not to have a law against excision.
“Soon the new legislators will decide if Mali is ready to join most of the other FGM-practicing countries in having a law against this very old but harmful practice,” McLucas added.
The Republic of Mali is located in Western Africa, southwest of Algeria. Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the land area irrigated by the Niger River. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. (CIA Factbook)
Contact: Susan McLucas Secretary General of Sini Sanuman