Female Genital Mutilation

The United Nations has called for more commitment from member Nations to the need to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030.

This was contained in a joint statement signed by the heads of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday.

The statement was signed by the Executive Directors of UNFPA, Dr Natalia Kanem, UNICEF, Henrietta Fore and UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngouka. FGM is a procedure performed on a woman or girl to alter or injure her genitalia for non-medical reasons and most often, involving the partial or total removal of her external genitalia.

FGM has no health benefits and often leads to long-term medical complications, including severe pain, prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility, death and increased risk of HIV transmission.

The UN noted that about 200 million girls and women have had their genitals mutilated, adding that this amounted to one of the most inhuman acts of gender-based violence in the world.

It said the organisation was reaffirming its commitment to end FGM and prevent other women at risk from going through the practice.

“On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, we reaffirm our commitment to end this violation of human rights so that tens of millions of girls who are still at risk of being mutilated by 2030 do not experience such suffering.

“This effort is especially critical because female genital mutilation violates women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity and leads to long term physical, psychological and social consequences.

“In 2015, world leaders overwhelmingly backed the elimination of female genital mutilation as one of the targets in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable Development, this is an achievable goal and we must act now to translate that political commitment to action.

“At the national level, we need new policies and legislation protecting the rights of girls and women to live free from violence and discrimination.

“Governments in countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent should also develop national action plans to end the practice.

“At the regional level, we need institutions and economic communities to work together, preventing the movement of girls and women across borders when the purpose is to get them into countries with less restrictive female genital mutilation laws.

“Locally, we need religious leaders to strike down myths that female genital mutilation has a basis in religion because societal pressure often drive the practice

“Public pledges to abandon female genital mutilation which are paired up with comprehensive strategies for challenging the social norms are an effective model of collective commitment,’’ the UN said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Feb. 6 each year marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. (NAN)

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