Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, January 25, 2008

Olympics used to put pressure on China over continued arming of Sudan

China is “financing, diplomatically protecting and supplying the arms for the first genocide of the 21st century,” columnist Nicholas D. Kristof asserted in The New York Times on Thursday.

In exchange for access to Sudanese oil, China has sold $83 million in weapons, aircraft and spare parts to the country – essential for Sudan’s invasion of Chad last year. China is also using its diplomatic power as a member of the U.N. Security Council to block action against Sudan.

This has led to a growing campaign to dub the sporting events of 2008 “The Genocide Olympics.”

“This is not a boycott of the Olympics,” says Kristof. “But expect Darfur-related protests at Chinese Embassies, as well as banners and armbands among both athletes and spectators. There’s a growing recognition that perhaps the best way of averting hundreds of thousands more deaths in Sudan is to use the leverage of the Olympics to shame China into more responsible behavior.”

For the full article, click here.

Vietnam church land dispute continues

Protests in Vietnam over church land seized by the government several decades ago are gaining increasing numbers, The Associated Press reported Friday.

The protests and prayer vigils have been going on since early December, and despite some encouraging signs at the close of 2007 when Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with Archbishop Kiet and pledged to consider the issue, the dispute has yet to be solved.

The number of people attending the vigils swelled recently due to an influx of visitors to Hanoi to celebrate Cardinal Pham Dinh Tung’s 90th birthday. Streets were blocked as demonstrators chanted and prayed for the land to be returned.

According to the article, “Church officials called on parishioners to show restraint as a number of protesters began pushing against the fence. At least two people who scaled the property's locked iron gate were beaten by guards.”

For the full article, click here.

Transgenic trees: destroying biodiversity

The issue of transgenic trees, which are genetically modified to help promote the lumbering and paper pulp industries, is a growing area of concern due to the trees’ negative environmental impact, according to a recent briefing from the World Rainforest Movement.

Transgenic trees can be made resistant to insects, herbicides, and fungi; and altered to tolerate lower temperatures and long drought periods. They are also designed to grow faster and contain more cellulose, while producing less lignin. These characteristics greatly benefit paper companies, which spend countless dollars researching ways to improve tree quality.

To the paper industry, transgenic trees are the answer for the diminishing forest population. Thousands of these genetically altered organisms can be planted to make new “forests” that in turn are cut down for paper services. However, to the ecosystem in and around the forest, transgenic trees are more of a burden than an answer, WRM says.

The growth in transgenic tree cultivation also has a negative impact on biodiversity, according to the group. Among other concerns, they cite the fact that the trees are not healthy for any living life form and cause potential hazards if ingested.

The transgenic tree issue is of great relevance in Viet Nam, where large agricultural corporations are using a method known as monoculture, destroying parts of the highly diverse rainforest and planting groves of a single species of tree. A large-scale introduction of transgenic trees would further exacerbate the problem.

WRM calls on the international community to help combat the expansion of tree monocultures and prevent transgenic trees from overtaking natural forests throughout the world.

For the full briefing, click here.

Women striving for change in Afghanistan

“In this century where man has reached Mars, Afghan women are still striving to establish ourselves as human beings,” said Wazhma Frogh, who has a lifelong history of social activism and is currently a gender and development specialist for the Canadian International Development Agency. She and four other female political and social activists painted a harrowing yet hopeful picture of the situation in Afghanistan at an event held by the Independent Women’s Forum on Thursday.

There is little doubt that women are facing severe difficulties in Afghanistan. Orzala Ashraf, founder and senior advisor of Humanitarian Assistance for the Women of Afghanistan, said that this is a country where women’s literacy rates are around 15 percent, child mortality is at 157 for every 1,000 live births, and less than one percent of police are female.

There is also a significant degree of fear, Ashraf said, about the gains in power and influence made by the Taliban since their fall in 2001.

Yet the women of Afghanistan are not prepared to accept these affronts to their rights: the women also told an incredible story of the strength, drive and sense of purpose that is helping them to push for change.

There have in fact been considerable improvements over the past six years. Girls are going back to school and some are pursuing careers, there has been a 25 percent drop in the infant mortality rate, and Shukria Barakzai, who is a Member of Parliament, went so far as to call the period since the fall of the Taliban the “golden years in the history of women in Afghanistan.”

But there is much more that must be done. One of the most significant boundaries to progress is corruption and ineffective enforcement of the law – it is a case of having “the wrong people in the right places” said Frogh, referring to the presence of warlords in the government and judiciary.

There is now a Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the Afghan government, led by a female cabinet minister. Ironically, however, Frogh asserted that the existence of this ministry actually reduces the accountability of government to women. It is simply not the case that “women’s issues” can be defined as a group, they permeate all other elements of society, the activists said. According to them, the existence of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs provides an excuse for women to be ignored by all other areas of government. They argued that there is a real need for far more representation of women across government and the security services. As Halima Karzai, Associate Director of Foreign Policy and International Women’s Issues at the Independent Women’s Forum said, “All issues are women’s issues.”

Aid has been pouring into Afghanistan in recent years but has on the whole been ineffective, Frogh claimed. She listed the first problem as the unsuitable nature of many development and capacity building projects, but added that established social barriers, which are preventing aid from having an effect, are more significant factors. In the most worrying example of this, Frogh reported that her research has shown that the majority of money from micro-credit projects ends up in the hands of husbands, who then often use it to procure a second wife.

There is, therefore, a real need for accountability and transparency in this area, Frogh argued. She stressed the importance of recognizing that in the current situation women’s lives are dependent on the perception of the men in their family, and planning projects in ways that either include the education of men or prevent the benefit from being lost. She suggested making men, either husbands or fathers, responsible for repayment of money from micro-credit projects, or the provision of supplies rather than cash.

The importance of viewing security and development in the widest sense of the word was emphasized throughout the forum. Barakzai said we must look at health, education, justice, the economy and social protection as essential elements of a secure society.

The panel said that they are regularly asked to what extent Islam itself is a barrier to equality. Frogh replied that Islam has “always been used as a weapon against women” but that this is due to an improper understanding and the politicized nature of the religion. What is needed is for prominent female scholars to challenge the traditional masculine interpretation, she said.

The enduring message brought by the women was one of hope. Orzala Ashraf has been involved in running training programs for women and children since 1998 when she was living in a refugee camp in Pakistan, and she said that she is not alone in what she does. Thousands of other women are, she says, actively working towards the recognition of their rights through training, teaching, and contributing to increased literacy.

“There has been real enthusiasm since 2002 and we keep hoping,” Ashraf said, “but we have great fears as well.”

Filmmaker recounts experience in Iranian jail

Mehrnoushe Solouki traveled to Iran to research a documentary about the burial rites of Iran’s religious minorities and was arrested when she accidentally discovered a mass grave of regime opponents executed in 1988, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported on Tuesday.

Solouki, a French-Iranian, spent a month in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison before being released on a bail of $124,000, paid by her parents in France.

“I heard the cries and yelling of other women prisoners,” she says. “I thought that they were terrorists, but when I asked about it, the answer was that they were women activists arrested during the ceremony for International Women’s Day.”

According to the article, Evin prison contains “a much-feared wing that is thought to be run by Iran's secret services. In recent months, the prison’s ranks have swelled with students, women’s rights activists, journalists, and others amid a fierce crackdown on dissent by the Iranian government.”

Solouki plans to make a film about her story to expose the plight of the scores of dissidents still imprisoned.

For the full article, click here.

Afghan journalist sentenced to death for violating Islamic law

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a journalist for Jahan-e Naw (New World), and a student at Balkh University has been sentenced to death for distributing “blasphemous” material, BBC News reported Wednesday.

In October 2007, Kambakhsh was arrested for downloading material relating to the role of women in Islamic societies, which was considered offensive to Islam.

According to the provincial court that handed down the sentence, Kambakhsh confessed to blasphemy and needed to be punished. The head of the court argued that Islamic law stipulates that the offense that Kambakhsh committed warrants a death sentence.

This ruling has been met by heavy criticism from the international human rights community. Reporters Without Borders said that the trail were less than fair as the sentencing was rushed along without proper regard for the law. In a statement, the group added, “Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence.”

Journalists were warned by Balkh province’s deputy attorney general, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, that any individual who chooses to support Kambakhsh will be arrested as well.

Kambakhsh’s brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi is asking the international community to step in and help save his brother.

For the full article, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saudi activist detained without charge for a year

A Saudi activist and academic has been held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for the last year, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Saud Mokhtar al-Hashemi, 45, was arrested last February and accused of illegally collecting funds and sending fighters to Iraq, but his lawyer and supporters claim that his detention was part of an attempt by the government to silence those calling for democratic reform.

According to the article, “Hashemi was working to form a civic rights group, the National Reformist Grouping. He was arrested the day a petition by some of the men involved in the group was made public. The petition called for an elected advisory council to help rule the country, curbs on Interior Ministry powers and a more equal distribution of the country’s land and wealth.” Hashemi had previously refused government demands that he stop these activities.

For the full article, click here.

Talks held on future of Nagorno-Karabakh

Potential solutions for the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh were discussed during a meeting with representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan, panorama.am reported on Thursday. There has been an ongoing conflict in the area, which has historic ties to both nations, despite a 1994 ceasefire.

According to the article, Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakyan criticized some of the Azerbaijani proposals.

He asserted that progress will only be made if Nagorno-Karabakh is included in the peace process as an equal party. “However, we have also stated that we are interested that Armenia continues participating in the negotiations because it will contribute to the preservation of current peace,” he said.

For the full article, click here.

Over 2,000 candidates barred from Iran elections

Thousands of candidates deemed unsuitable by Iran’s Guardian Council, the conservative constitutional watchdog closely allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been barred from running in the country’s upcoming elections, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Ali Reza Afshar, a top Interior Ministry official in charge of elections, announced that out of 7,200 proposed candidates 5,000 remain.

According to the article, the “Council’s chief, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a key Ahmadinejad ally, said last month that any candidate determined by the Council to be disloyal to the principles of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution would be barred from running.”

There has been widespread criticism of the disqualifications from reformist groups, some of whom had all of their candidates rejected.

For the full article, click here.

‘Too late to talk about victory’ in Iraq?

The interrelated nature of political, sectarian and military issues in the Middle East was at the core of discussion at a forum, “Iraq: An Assessment of Policy Options in 2008,” held by the Brookings Institution Wednesday. A group of the Institution’s senior fellows – Martin Indyk, Michael O’Hanlon, Carlos Pascual, Peter W. Rodman and Phillip H. Gordon – spoke about the possibility of reducing troops in the area over the next few years, the conditions that would be necessary to do so, and the possible results of any such action if it does occur.

Indyk began by discussing the negative ripple effect that has occurred throughout the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iran’s bolstered power over the region, heightened sectarian violence, the growing popularity of Islamic political parties and an increased international awareness of the importance of an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty are all factors related to the war, he said.

There was a consensus among the panel that, due to President Bush’s desire to maintain stability, there will not be any dramatic change in numbers of troops this year. Gordon pointed out that Iraq has seen a marked improvement in recent months, but that what is open for discussion is the reason for this and the influence that the numbers of troops have upon it.

The surge in troop numbers is just one factor among many, argued O’Hanlon. He noted the importance of several internal political factors in the consideration of the situation in Iraq, arguing that there have been some positive developments, including reforms allowing former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to return to public life, a reasonably successful purge of extremists from government and an improving sectarian balance in the security forces. However, he said that the glass of Iraqi politics continues to be only one-third full.

The enduring problem faced by Iraq, what Indyk called the “abiding dynamic,” is sectarian rivalry: there continue to be significant divisions between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, with disputes over land, property and compensation ongoing. It was suggested by Rodman that military presence gives all sides a reasonable assurance that they are safe from each other.

The issue is, of course, extremely complex. It was argued that, if anything, the apparent improvement of conditions over the last year serves to illustrate the difficulty in judging the effectiveness of the troop presence in Iraq, and certainly doesn’t make decisions about possible withdrawals any easier. As Indyk said, “If things get better we have to stay because we’re the reason that things are getting better, and if things get worse we have to stay until things get better.”

It was this uncertainty, combined with the “years of bloodshed” that have already been witnessed, that led O’Hanlon to argue that it is no longer possible to talk of victory in Iraq. Any progress made will be an avoidance of defeat, and to call it victory would be “callous to the costs we’ve experienced,” he said.

Censorship and incitement in the Arab world

Arab governments are experts in the tasks of “stifling public debate, suppressing political discussion and imposing limits on thought and expression,” said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia at a congressional hearing Tuesday. He, along with three other experts on the issue, discussed the current state of freedom of expression across the Middle East and North Africa, and its implications for relations both within the region and with the United States.

The presentations of both Joel Campagna, Middle East Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Richard Eisendorf, Senior Program Manager for the Middle East and North Africa at Freedom House, focused on the current situation across the region. They gave numerous examples of the barriers to free expression, criticism and comment, most notably restrictive legislation, state control of media and harassment and assault of journalists and activists.

Recent years have seen a rise in the use of the Internet as a tool for free discussion that would not be permitted in the regular print media, but Eisendorf said that governments are now seeking to gain greater control even over this medium of dissent. He said that measures taken have included the arrest of bloggers, the retention of a monopoly over Internet service providers, and a requirement that all users on websites register their name and email address, thus removing any possibility of anonymity.

Egypt was raised as a cause for particular concern by the speakers. Campagna said the Committee to Protect Journalists had this year deemed Egypt- a leading recipient of U.S. foreign assistance- "one of the world's world backsliders for political freedom."

Yet it is through claims to be protecting freedom of expression that many countries defend the publication of extremist or racist content. This new element to the debate was introduced by Kenneth Jacobson, Deputy National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Jacobson pointed out the anti-Semitism is expressed regularly in the media of the Arab world, drawing attention to cartoons that depict Jews and Israelis as hook-nosed and money hungry, as Nazis, as snakes, and as the puppeteers behind the U.S. While he recognized the right to criticize Israel – the right, in his example, to the political viewpoint that the Palestinians should not have to pay the price for something that Europeans did to Jews – he asserted that it regularly comes down to racist propaganda.

In the words of Ackerman, “the problem is that in the Middle East, where the press is not free, where there are rules for what you can and cannot say, the fact that these forms of hate-speech are not prohibited, while observing out loud or in print about, say the health of a nation’s president can land one in jail, indicates an obvious and dangerous form of state endorsement.” Governments are, in other words, effectively presenting these opinions as their own.

“The same governments that say they can’t take small steps toward normalizing relations with Israel because of the expected public outcry are some of the very same governments using their government owned, government sanctioned or government controlled press and media to feed their public stories of imaginary Israeli massacres, Jewish blood libels and…copies of the Protocols of the Elders and Mein Kampf,” he added.

It is clear that restriction of freedom of expression is severe in the Middle East. However, several suggestions were made for ways in which progress could be made. Eisendorf recommended that Washington stand in solidarity with journalists and call for their release, and also emphasized the importance of funding organizations that defend freedom of conscience and human rights in general on the ground. In addition, he suggested that prominent U.S. citizens engage with old and new foreign media to share and discuss views, pointing out that popular television station Al Jazeera regularly hosts foreign guests.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Egyptian fatwa committee seeks stronger punishment for re-conversion from Islam

Egyptian religious officials are seeking tougher penalties for individuals who reconvert from Islam to Christianity, the Assyrian International News Agency reported Monday, citing Quds Press.

According to the fatwa, issued by the country’s top religious body, reconverting is a religious offense that should be severely punished. However, as the article notes: “Some scholars say there is no specific punishment for apostasy in Islam, while others claim it is an offense punishable by death.”

In Egypt, Coptic Christians sometimes convert to Islam for personal reasons such as divorce or remarriage and later reconvert to Christianity. After the re-conversion, Copts must typically obtain new identification cards. Most re-conversion cases are still pending. In April 2007, an Egyptian court ruled that new identification documentation would not be issued to Christians who reconvert. The decision enraged Copts, who viewed it as a violation of their basic rights. One Coptic activist stated: “This is an inhuman decision that violates the right of citizenship granted to all Egyptians according to Article 1 of the constitution.”

For the full article, click here.

Egyptian officials outraged over EU human rights resolution

At the European parliament in Strasbourg last Thursday, a resolution was introduced by lawmakers accusing Egypt of having a less than reputable human rights record, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.

Recent allegations of torture and prisoner abuse have spurred Egyptian officials to stand firm in the defense of their country.

The resolution prompted Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adly to make a visit to an Egyptian prison for a groundbreaking chat with prisoners. “Egypt is committed to the protection of human rights in all security areas, including prisons and police stations,” he said.

Human rights advocacy groups beg to differ, though, often citing claims of abuse and torture, along with discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.

The resolution also called on Cairo to release Egyptian dissident Ayman Nour, who was jailed on dubious charges after campaigning against President Hosni Mubarak in 2005.

For the full article, click here.

New Iraq, new flag

The Iraqi parliament has approved new changes to the national flag, BBC News reported Wednesday.

The flag, once displaying Saddam Hussein’s own handwriting, has been altered to reflect the country’s transformation. The new flag will retain the colors of red, black, and white, but will remove the three green stars that represented the Baath party. Also, the “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”) line of script, allegedly written in Hussein’s own handwriting, will be permanently replaced with a Kufic script.

In 2004, a completely different flag was proposed by Iraq’s U.S.-appointed governing council. However, the design was ultimately rejected because of its similarity to the flag of Israel.

The new flag design is not yet completely final; however it represents a noteworthy step for the Iraqi parliament.

For the full article, click here.

Multifaceted aid program bringing food and literacy training to Afghan women

A joint UNICEF-World Food Program (WFP) project in Kandahar, Afghanistan is helping to serve families’ food needs while also promoting women’s education, The Canadian Press reported Sunday.

During the reign of the Taliban, opportunities for women were nonexistent, as they were forbidden from attending schools or taking classes. However, today, a little over six years after the fall of the radical group, programs that promote women’s literacy are becoming more widespread.

Afghan women with families must generate household income, but many either do not have time to attend school or are not permitted by their husbands to do so. The UNICEF-WFP program creates an incentive to convince both men and women that families can remain financially stable while members attend class. Participating women attend literacy classes, and in return are given “a 50 kilogram bag of wheat, 1 kilogram bag of salt, 8 kilogram bag of beans and 3.7 kilogram container of oil to take home every two months,” the article notes, adding that “for many women, the joint UNICEF-World Food Program (WFP) literacy initiative presents the perfect bargaining tool.”

Enrollment in the program has skyrocketed from 400 students in 2005 to over 6,000 students currently.

“Education is power,” said Sayeda Achekzai, a nurse and mother of six whose been participating in the program as a teacher for the last three years. “Before these women were blind. They couldn’t read a thing and now they understand where they’re going.”

For the full article, click here.

Pro-democracy group holds significant support in Viet Nam

The exile-run, pro-democracy Viet Tan group is the “democratic pebble in Vietnam’s shoe,” Asia Times asserted on January 18.

Viet Tan’s origins lie with a group of exiled Vietnamese who aimed to overthrow the Communist Party-led government through a popular uprising in 1980, though since then it has advocated peaceful political change through underground activities. It surfaced as a public organization in 2004, and claims to be Viet Nam’s second largest political group after the ruling Communist Party. According to the article, it plans to carry out a 10-program action plan, including grassroots activities to improve social welfare, restore civil rights and promote pluralism openly inside Viet Nam.

Duy Hoang, a member of Viet Tan’s executive committee, believes that the current political climate in Viet Nam – notably, factors such as last year’s accession to the World Trade Organization and this year’s assumption of a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council – makes the Communist Party more sensitive than ever to outside pressure for reform.

However, there are considerable barriers in place that prevent the organization from acting publicly in Viet Nam. The article highlights the fact that on November 17, Vietnamese authorities arrested and jailed a group of Viet Tan members, including U.S., French, Thai and Vietnamese citizens, who distributed fliers calling for non-violent democratic change. Though four of the foreign nationals have since been released, one American and one Thai citizen are still in detention.

According to the article, “Viet Tan declines to reveal its membership figures, saying its ultimate strength lies in the power of its ideas, not its numbers.”

For the full article, click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Suspicious circumstances surround deaths of Iranian prisoners

Just nine days after Iranian student Ebrahim Lotfollahi was detained, for reasons that are still unclear, his family was told that he had committed suicide, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty reported on January 18.

Lotfollahi’s family claims that he had no reason to take his own life. They were not permitted to see the body, which was buried without an autopsy. A few days later, the grave was covered with a layer of concrete.

The article suggests that this is not an isolated incident, saying that “this case appears similar to that of another student: Zahra Bani Yaghoub, a 27-year-old who died in prison in the western city of Hamedan in October shortly after she was detained by the morality police while out for a stroll with her boyfriend. In Yaghoub’s case, officials also said that she committed suicide, but her family accused the police of murdering her. They said her body was bruised and that there was blood in her ears.” An autopsy has been called for, but some observers doubt that officials will grant it.

Saman Rasulpour, a Sanandaj-based journalist and member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, is supporting Lotfollahi’s family in its pursuit of the truth. “We will first try to find a lawyer for this family, which is a very innocent and poor family, to pursue the case through legal channels,” Rasulpour said. “ This is a suspicious death for us human rights activists, and security forces were responsible for his life and they have to give answers.”

For the full article, click here.

Sudan atrocities suspect given senior government post

Sudan has appointed Musa Hilal, suspected of leading a militia group accused of murder, rape and other atrocities, to a senior central government position, a move condemned by Human Rights Watch on Sunday.

According to a statement released by Human Rights Watch, “Hilal and his men played an integral role in the two-year campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Sudanese army and Janjaweed militia. Scores of victims, witnesses to attacks, and even members of the Sudanese armed forces have named Hilal as the top commander of government-backed Janjaweed militias responsible for numerous atrocities in Darfur in 2003 and 2004. Hilal was named by the US State Department as early as July 2004 as one of six militia leaders alleged to be responsible for serious crimes in Darfur.”

Human Rights Watch urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to press Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to revoke the appointment and to investigate Hilal for crimes in Darfur.

“Musa Hilal is the poster child for Janjaweed atrocities in Darfur,” said Richard Dicker, director of the organization’s International Justice Program. “Rewarding him with a special government post is a slap in the face to Darfur victims and to the UN Security Council.”

For the full statement, click here.

Female circumcision undergone by ‘silent majority’ in Indonesia

Ninety-six percent of Indonesian families report that their daughters undergo some form of circumcision by the age of 14, The New York Times reported on Sunday. In Indonesia, the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, arranges an annual mass circumcision during the lunar month marking the birth of the prophet Mohammed.

According to Lukman Hakim, the foundation’s chairman of social services, there are three “benefits” to circumcising girls. “One, it will stabilize her libido,” he said through an interpreter. “Two, it will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband. And three, it will balance her psychology.”

Female genital mutilation is a practice widely condemned by the international community, but in Indonesia the debate over its continuation is still in the early stages. “The Ministry of Health has issued a decree forbidding medical personnel to practice it,” says the article, “but the decree which has yet to be backed by legislation does not affect traditional circumcisers and birth attendants, who are thought to do most female circumcisions. Many agree that a full ban is unlikely without strong support from the country’s religious leaders. According to the Population Council study, many Indonesians view circumcision for boys and girls as a religious duty.”

Whereas the circumcision of boys has been shown to offer some health benefits, such as a reduced risk of infection, “there is absolutely no medical value in circumcising girls,” said Laura Guarenti, an obstetrician and the World Health Organization’s medical officer for child and maternal health in Jakarta. “It is 100 percent the wrong thing to be doing.”

For the full article, click here.