Editor’s note: The following is a message from Sicco Diemer, Mon Frere creative director, on the progress their Getty Images grant-funded campaign has made in support of Sini Sanuman, an organization that is dedicated to stopping female genital mutilation.
Communications agency Mon Frere, together with photographer Sam Faulkner, were winners of our 2010 Getty Images Creative Grant (formerly Grants for Good), which supports photographers and communications professionals who use their talents to promote positive change in our world. Our 2012 winners will be announced soon; for more information on our grants programs, click here.
Dear Getty Images,
I had wanted to update you on some of the progress made by Sini Sanuman in their fight against excision. Sini Sanuman have managed to attract a very substantial grant ($300,000) from UNICEF to continue the fight against excision (for more information please see http://www.stopexcision.net/news_reports.htm).
The posters we made with the help of the Grant are still used today.
Please see the city-wide ceremony commemorating the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM (Feb. 6) which was held in District I, Bamako this year. It was on the news in Mali on February 7, 2012 (http://vimeo.com/38158719). Additionally the billboards, which were financed locally, but whose images and design was partly paid for with the help of the Getty Images Grant, will be reprinted and erected at key intersections in Bamako, as was previously done in February, 2011.
Currently 400 villages have given up excising with hopefully many more to follow. The Family Code Act was accepted making FGM illegal. Unfortunately, there is no penalty related to it — resulting in a somewhat impotent government regulation — it is however a step in the right direction.
While the legislature did adopt the Family Code including a part saying that people should not excise their girls, other parts of the same Code are definite steps in the wrong direction. The age of marriage is lowered for girls from 18 to 16, or even 15, if the family wants. It is now illegal for people of different religions to marry each other, and the husband is confirmed as the head of the household, making it officially illegal, among other things, for a wife to leave the house without his permission. He can also, at any time, take another wife, even if the marriage was on the basis of monogamy.
So, while we are happy that FGM is against the law, the picture is much cloudier than we’d like. Sini Sanuman are still in communication with people at the legislature, who say that they will vote on a separate law against excision, which will have punishments for perpetrators, but we don’t know exactly when. Sini Sanuman’s many public meetings in market places and in District I are continuing, with hundreds of people participating every day.
I am very pleased to say that the grant has had a significant multiplier effect and will continue to contribute to the outlawing of FGM.
All my best,