10 Years TARGET:
a success story
For the girls of Africa
On 5th August 2000, when Rüdiger Nehberg and his colleague at the time, An-nette, today his wife, founded the human rights organisation TARGET e.V. in Rausdorf, they both had the firm intent that they would not stop their efforts until the bloody custom of female genital mutilation was abolished. Now, ten years later, they are able to look back on many positive achievements. TARGET’s story is one of success: “Much of what was then still a vision in 2000, has now, for our tenth anniversary, already been reality for a long time,” says Rüdiger Nehberg. TARGET succeeded in paving the way for a worldwide end to female genital mutilation. The breakthrough came in 2006 with the “Fatwa of Cairo” with which the highest Islamic scholars declared the bloody custom a “crime”.
From the outset, Annette and Rüdiger Nehberg were convinced that the ritual could only be stopped with the power of religion (Islam) and with the Muslims as allies. Although, to begin with, their concept brought them more foes than friends. Mean-while, though, admiration prevails. With all their dedication for the girls of Africa, the TARGET founders have achieved more than all those before them.
For Annette and Rüdiger Nehberg, the “Fatwa of Cairo” was like a wonder. The le-gally binding resolution was compiled during an international conference of scholars, initiated by TARGET, at Al-Azhar University, the centre of Sunni Islam. “Our success in Cairo was one of the highlights of my life,” emphasised Rüdiger Nehberg.
The “Fatwa of Cairo” represents the basis of TARGET’s work today. It is also the basis of the awareness campaign “The Golden Book“ which has already been launched in Ethiopia (2009), Djibouti (2009) and Mauretania (2008). TARGET wants to distribute four million copies of the GOLDEN BOOK to the prayer leaders of the mosques in the 35 affected countries.
Other important milestones in TARGET’s success story:
- The oath of the Afar mothers (2009)
- The fatwa of Prof. Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi (2009)
- The “Caravan of Hope” in Mauretania (2005)
- Setting up a mobile hospital in the Afar region (2004)
- The ruling of the Federal High Court of Justice (2004)
- The TARGET desert conferences in Ethiopia (2002), Djibouti (2004) and Maureta-nia (2004).
The following should also be mentioned here: in 2008 Annette and Rüdiger Nehberg were awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for their services in the struggle against female genital mutilation. In 2010 the film “Die Karawane der Hoffnung” (The Cara-van of Hope) (ProSieben) – a TV documentary directed by Dr. Bernhard Albrecht and Karsten Scheuren about TARGETs work in Ethiopia – was also awarded the Adolf-Grimme prize. And, in 2009, the GOLDEN BOOK received the “reddot“ design prize.
TARGET is currently building the “Danakil desert maternity ward” in the Afar region. The hospital project is supported by gynaecologists from the whole of Germany.
“All targets can be achieved if you have the right strategy” – Rüdiger Nehberg’s mot-to also applies to TARGET. The name says it all. Right up until the present day. “Ten years ago people thought I was mad and that it was not possible to have a dialogue with Islam,” recalls Nehberg on TARGET’S founding. Annette Nehberg adds: “We simply didn’t allow ourselves to be swayed and said to ourselves: “Even if we only save one girl, then our efforts were worth it.”