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Regional News Sat, 19 Mar 2005

Islamic leaders lead crusade against violence against women

Eunice Menka GNA Special Correspondent

Abuja, March 19, GNA -Over 150 Islamic scholars, sheikhs, imams and representatives of Muslim youth and women's groups meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, have declared war against female genital circumcision and other practices, which militate against the welfare of women.

"We strongly urge all leaders and people of faith to make more positive and substantial contributions to the reproductive health and the rights of women in order to promote the well-being of families and communities and to reduce poverty across Africa."

"In that respect, we support efforts to save the lives of African women and children and lift our communities out of poverty through efforts proposed in blue prints that were shaped by African nations and development partners," the group said in a declaration adopted at the end of a five-day conference on "Islam and the Family Well-being".

The declaration was contained in a document tilted: "Abuja Declaration of the Network of African Islamic Faith-Based Organisations" read by a Senegalese Scholar and Chairperson of the Network, Sheikh Hassan Cisse.

UNFPA organised the Conference, which brought top Islamic leaders from across Africa to deliberate on various issues including family planning, female genital cutting and the responsibilities of women in Islam. The conference formed a network to lead the way in addressing population and development issues affecting Muslims.

The leaders said they supported efforts to provide women with reproductive health care and the means to enable couples to make their own decisions on the number and spacing of their children in line with Islamic principles.

They said women should be free from all forms of discrimination and violence and the girl-child should be educated and supported to develop her full potentials.

They expressed the need for parents and teachers, among others, to be provided with the necessary skills to impart population and family life education to the youth to enable them make informed decisions and choices.

Source: GNA