Woman Fights for Asylum To Save Daughter From Female Genital Mutilation

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter is a compelling portrayal of a young woman’s fight to save her daughter.

You may remember your days as a 22 year old. Perhaps you
were picking out your graduation outfit, applying to potential jobs, or
deciding upon a graduate school. For one woman 22 years of age, Mrs. Goundo,
such preoccupations were the least of her concerns. Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, a film by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, completes
the final episode of Afro Pop, a series by The National Black Programming Consortium . Mrs. Goundo’s daughter tells the
touching story of a young mother fighting for asylum to protect her child from
the practice she once endured in Mali: Female Genital Mutilation.  

The fear Goundo showed for her daughter’s safety was certainly
well reasoned. According to the episode, 85 percent of the women living in Mali
are subject to female genital mutilation. Staying in America was a hard
decision for Goundo to make as she often described her longing to return home.
She said her village is a lively town, where women dance and celebrate in the
streets. “My family keeps asking me to bring my daughter but if I do they will
circumcise her… I fight for asylum because I can’t go home with my daughter,”
Goundo stated.

According to William Moronski Goundo’s lawyer, only 10 to 20
percent of request for asylum in the United States is actually granted. The
reason he says, is that judges often think the plaintiffs are lying. So Mrs.
Goundo pressed day after day to tell her compelling story.

While practicing for a court date with her translator Moussa
Traore, Mrs. Goundo was asked why she did not want to go back to Mali. “I know
how it was done to me and how it feels on me now.  Also there are several diseases a girl can
catch. Sometimes the bleeding doesn’t stop,” Mrs. Goundo stated.

It was a cringing experience to watch as the villagers
prepared for the excision. The woman performing the procedure stated that she
never had any problems, as she prepared the blades that would forever change
the lives of young girls. Despite her confidence that day, four girls had died
that month after participating in the cuttings.

There are three types of genital mutilation a woman can undergo.

1) Cutting the clitoris hood, the clitoris and the labia.

2) Cutting the hood, the clitoris and the labia minora. This
procedure accounts for 67 percent of the cutting in Mali.  

3) The third option is called infibulation which consists of
cutting the clitoris, labia minora and part of the labia majora. The majora is
then stitched closed. Goldwater stated that in
this particular case, the woman is eventually cut open by a doctor when she is
married. If there is no doctor available the responsibility falls on the

According to health activist Kadisha Djenepo, Female Genital
Mutilation is done in order to control the sexuality of the women. The
documentary showed men that feared their work related absence would cause infidelity among their wives. Many of
these men had multiple wives.                   

 Goldwater says that although Female Genital Mutilation is deeply
rooted in Malian culture, President Amadou Toumani Toure and his wife are both
against the practice. Toure however, is afraid to pass a law because he thinks Mali
lacks the resources to enforce it. Many groups such as Equality Now are working
to see that a law is passed in Mali making female genital mutilation illegal.

Despite the vast presence female genital mutilation has in
cultures across the globe, Goldwater says there is never any problem to big to
tackle “we shouldn’t assume that cultural practice can’t change when as many
120 million girls are around the world suffering from this procedure.”

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter will air tonight on PBS World Chanel
at 7pm. The film is airing in honor of the United Nation’s International Day of
Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (February 6). The film will re-air
through the 13th.

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