Saturday, 23 January 2021

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Each girl cut is one too many

FGM Aisha Ousman Photo Unicef Ethiopia Mersha RS

Female genital mutilation, known as FGM, threatens nearly four million girls every year.

The extremely painful procedure, rooted in gender inequalities and power imbalances, has been carried out on an estimated 200 million women and girls alive today. On 6 February the International Day of Zero Tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation is observed around the world. An estimated 68 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation by 2030 if we don’t accelerate our efforts to end the harmful practice, warns the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, with their new campaign “Born Complete”.

Indeed, Europe is not immune to the practice, even though all EU-countries have legislation that prohibits FGM. Estimates show that around 180 000 girls risk being cut each year, and 500 000 women in Europe have been subjected to FGM.
“Female genital mutilation is an abhorrent human rights violation affecting women and girls around the world”, says United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “It denies them their dignity, endangers their health and causes needless pain and suffering, even death.”

FGM is most concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East but is also common in several Asian countries, including India, Indonesia, Iraq, and Pakistan, as well as among some indigenous groups in Latin America, like the Emberá in Colombia.
Moreover, FGM continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
But FGM is increasingly reaching the news threshold. The British news broadcaster BBC alarmingly reported a few days ago that FGM is increasingly being carried out on UK babies and infants after a mother was found guilty of FGM – the first conviction for FGM in the United Kingdom. And when it comes to combating FGM, France is often mentioned for its tough stance against FGM, where In the past 34 years there have been 29 trials, in which about 100 people – both parents and cutters – have been convicted.

The elimination of FGM has been called for by numerous inter-governmental organizations, including the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as in three resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Every girl and woman has the right to live a life free of violence and pain. And yet, more than 200 million women and girls across the world have been forced to undergo the painful and traumatic practice of Female Genital Mutilation, including 500,000 living in Europe. Millions more girls are at risk of being cut: 68 million girls in 25 countries by 2030”, EU-leaders said in a joint statement published today. The international day also falls under the ongoing Spotlight Initiative, a joint project of the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. One of the specific threads of the Spotlight Initiative targets sexual and gender-based violence, and harmful practices in Sub-Saharan Africa, which include female genital mutilation.

The Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. The programme currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.


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