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The Third TARGET Desert Conference - Tadjourah, Djibouti, 08/08/2004

TARGET's third desert conference took place under the patronage of his Eminence Sultan Abdelkader Mohamed Humad at the Sultan's residence. The location is on the Red Sea, close to the border with Eritrea. The Sultan is the religious leader of the Afar people of Djibouti. It amounts to about half the population. The other half are Issa.

The conference also lasted two days here. On the first day, the conference was just for the tribal leaders, excluding the public. We played the six-minute film on Female Genital Mutilation, which was specifically produced for religious leaders, to inform them about the seriousness of the crime. Pharaonic mutilation is practised in Djibouti.

The public were permitted entry on the second day. They were informed by banners, which were hung across the streets.

The Sultan announced the decision:

"I, Sultan Abdelkader Mohamed Humad, hereby condemn the harmful custom of Female Genital Mutilation. [...] The participants have unanimously decided to abolish this custom. [...] I command all people of Djibouti to follow this example."

The conference ended with a theatre and music performance by the local human rights' group ADEC (Association pour le Développement de l'Education et Culture).

State television reported five times on the event.