End genital mutilation now

Every year, the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is celebrated on February 6 as a way to raise awareness about the FGM practice all over the world and work towards its end.

Woman holding a razor blade.

Woman holding a razor blade. / Photo: UNICEF

The Woman Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez Toro

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Leer en español: Hay que poner fin a la mutilación genital femenina

According to UNESCO, on December 20, 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it “calls upon States, the United Nations system, civil society, and all stakeholders to continue to observe 6 February as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and to use the day to enhance awareness-raising campaigns and to take concrete actions against female genital mutilations”.

As read on UNICEF, this procedure consists mainly of the partial or total removal of women´s genitalia for non-medical reasons. Actually, in many of the places where this practice takes place, the reason is gender inequality. Some communities see it as a passage into womanhood, as a way to suppress a woman´s sexuality or as an “honorable” thing.

The practice, as many health experts argue, has no benefits and could lead to complications such as severe pain, infection, increased risk of HIV transmission, prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility, and even death.

According to Voa News, even though FGM occurs mainly in 30 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, it is a global problem since some migrant communities are bringing this practice to Western countries. 

WHO highlights the fact that in countries such as Djibouti, Egypt and Somalia “more than 90% of girls undergo some form of FGM, some of them before they are old enough to walk.”

Figures from UNICEF show that at least 200 million girls and women between the ages of 15 to 49 from 30 countries have been subjected to the practice and that if real actions to end female genital mutilation are not taken now, another 68 million girls will have been cut by 2030.

Also read: U.S. maternal mortality is still too high

What can we do?

As read on Plan International, there are six things we can do to tackle this practice:  

1. Challenge the discriminatory reasons FGM is practiced, including the need to control female sexuality.

2. Change traditions with the support of older generations.

3. Educate girls on their right to decide what happens to their bodies.

4. Speak out about the risks and realities of FGM.

5. Spread understanding that religion has nothing to do with this practice.

6.  Tackle the secrecy that allows FGM to continue.

Women who are doing something

As read on the “End FGM European Network”, Fatou Diatta, known as Sister Fa, is an active Ambassador of the European Network who is raising her voice against genital mutilation in Senegal and Europe.

A short documentary on how she is fighting against the practice as an artist was released last month by the journalist Andrew Smith, showing powerful scenes in which she empowers and informs the youth and shifting the narrative in her country.

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