Inspired to Take Action - Wednesday
Discussing issues with representatives from Senegal
Moved by the stories of violence experienced by girls and women, students with the SSND delegation at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Woman on Wednesday began planning actions they can undertake while one student from Senegal paid an impromptu visit to her country’s consulate and permanent mission to the United States.
Marie Diop, a student at Notre Dame of Maryland University who was born in Senegal, spoke with Minister Counselor Fatou Isadora Niang and consulate staff members Serigne Mbacké and Sophie Kieta about issues facing women and girls in her country and other African nations.
Among the subjects they addressed is the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Although it is not legal in Senegal, it occurs more frequently in bordering countries. Marie said that she was offered a perspective she had not considered. One of the cultural reasons why the practice is difficult to end is because often the people who perform FGM do it for financial reasons.
“Senegal likes to lead by example rather than tell other countries what to do,” Marie said.
She also discussed a recent incident involving the death of nine children in Senegal. The children, believed to have been exploited as beggars, were burned to death while sleeping in locked classroom.
“After learning about the nine children, I want to start an NGO focused on the education of children and take care of their development,” Marie said. “I am going to start researching that.”
Working to end human trafficking
Many of the workshops and events the SSND delegates attended on Wednesday focused on immigration and trafficking issues. Of particular concern is the sex trafficking associated with major sporting events. In preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, the government already is taking steps to prevent the exploitation of women and girls during the international event.
In the United States, Tracy Thompson, assistant attorney general in New Jersey, said that her state is working with stakeholders in law enforcement, health care, social services, hotels, taxi companies, faith-based organizations and NGOs to prepare for the 2014 Super Bowl and develop steps to protect women and children.
“We can’t get this wrong, not when young children, even as young as 11, are being trafficked,” Thompson said. “We must get this right. We will make it happen in New Jersey so people know this is about protection, prevention and prosecution.”