UN chief stresses need to break silence on female genital mutilation

February 7, 2015 1:58 pm 

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 7 — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called upon health workers around the world to eliminate the deeply harmful practice that affects at least 130 million girls and women in 29 countries.

The secretary-general made the appeal in his message to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, which falls on Feb. 6. This year, it focused on ending the "medicalization" of the procedure.

Ban said that breaking the silence and disproving the myths around Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are the first steps along the way to eliminating it altogether. He urged everyone to end the practice and create the future where every girl can grow up free of violence and discrimination, with full dignity, human rights and equality.

"Change is coming from within the communities," Ban said. " Breaking the silence and disproving the myths around female genital mutilation are the first steps along the way to eliminating it altogether."

"If everyone mobilized — women, men and young people — it is possible, in this generation, to end a practice that currently affects some 130 million girls and women in 29 countries where we have data," he said. "I call for all people to end FGM and create the future we want where every girl can grow up free of violence and discrimination, with full dignity, human rights and equality."

UN Agencies, such as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), also issued messages, calling on health workers to stop the medicalization of FGM and mobilize against this dangerous and deeply harmful practice.

"FGM violates the human rights and undermines the health and well-being of some 3 million girls each year," said a joint statement by the four organizers of Friday's commemoration. "FGM is illegal in many countries, and medical providers who perform it in these places are breaking the law. But in every country, whether legal or not medical providers who perform FGM are violating the fundamental rights of girls and women."

According to UNICEF, around one in five girls have been cut by a trained health-care provider. In some countries, this can reach as high as three in four girls. Countries with the highest number of FGM cases performed by health workers are — egypt (77 percent), Sudan (55 percent), Kenya (41 percent), Nigeria (29 percent), and Guinea (27 percent).

FGM reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children, the UN says.

The practice, concentrated in some 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, from Yemen and Gambia to Somalia and Mauritania, also violates a woman's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Nearly one in five women who has undergone FGM lives in egypt. The practice is almost universal in Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt, where more than 90 percent of girls and women have been cut.(PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/PJN

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