News

IRISH PRISONERS STRIP SEARCHED

On 2 March women prisoners in Northern Ireland’s Maghaberry jail were attacked by guards and stripped naked, searched and forcibly re-dressed. Bronwyn McGahan was held on the floor and while three riot-clad guards sat on her, a fourth ran his hands over her body. Karen Quinn suffered several facial injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment. The one woman in the jail who was not strip searched was recovering from major surgery. A campaign has been launched in Britain to stop strip searches: Women and Ireland Network, P.O. Box 104, Sheffield 1, Britain.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

The London-Based Minority Rights Group (MRG) has published the 42-page Female Genital Mutilation: Proposals for Change. The report, written by Efua Dorkenoo and Scilla Elworthy, includes first hand accounts of the practice and a series of recommendations aimed at governments, international agencies and aid donors. MRG is calling on international agencies to make genital mutilation of girls a major human rights and health issue in the 1990s. The organization is urging the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNDP to each allocate 0.5% of their total expenditure between 1992 and 2000 on programs to combat the practice.

Female genital mutilation can range from circumcision (cutting of the prepuce or hood of the clitoris) to infibulation (cutting of the clitoris, labia minora and part or all of the labia majora). After the latter operation, usually performed by older women with traditional instruments and without anaesthetics, the sides of the vulva are sewn together until scar tissue forms. Infibulated women need their vulva scars reopened in childbirth, which are then sewn back after giving birth. The operation can be fatal, and an unknown number of girls die each year from shock, blood poisoning, tetanus or haemorrhaging. Female Genital Mutilation (£3.95/$5.95), 379 Brixton Road, London SW9 7DE, Britain. Tel. +44 71 9789498.

GULF RESISTER RELEASED EARLY

Dr. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, a doctor with the US Army Reserves who refused to serve in the Gulf War, was released from a military prison April 6. She had served eight months of an originally 30-month sentence, which had been reduced to 15 months. She credited an international letter writing campaign, and being adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, with her early release. The day after her release a petition was filed to revoke her medical license. The petition charges her with dishonorable conduct and committing a felony. The charges are based on her resistance to the war.