Female Genital Mutilation: A Serious Violation of Girls’ and Women’s Rights


Here is a post by fellow blogger and educator Wayne Campbell. You can find the link to this article here: http://wayaine.blogspot.com/2016/02/female-genital-mutilation.html 

As the World Health Organization states: “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.” (See: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/) Here’s something I found out today: An estimated 137,000 women and girls are affected by FGM in the UK alone, largely among immigrant populations in London.

Photo: UNFPA/Senegal
Photo: UNFPA/Senegal

Today, February 6, is the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. This procedure differs according to the ethnic group. The practice is most prevalent between ages 0-14, however, this is usually done up to age 49. This procedure is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anesthesia.

At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, with half of them living in Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia. The latest figures, provided by UNICEF, show nearly 70 million more girls than previously thought have been subjected to ritual cutting.

Female Genital Mutilation is a creation by males to keep women subjugated and powerless. Men have no right to tell women what they should do to their bodies. While I understand that female genital mutilation is steeped in cultural norms and practices grounded in patriarchy there are sometimes serious health issues associated with female genital mutilation. There are social, physiological and physical consequences for girls and women who are often forced to have this procedure.

The risk to girls who have had this procedure is severe and many face long term health problems such as infections, infertility, complications in child birth, urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections); scar tissue and keloid. Disturbingly, only 18 per cent of female genital mutilations are conducted by health workers.

Female Genital Mutilation has no health benefits and violates the human rights of girls. Other countries practicing female genital mutilation include Nigeria, Somalia, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, Yemen, Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Djibouti and Mauritania. Female Genital Mutilation is also practiced among migrant groups in developed countries.

We need to engage the men and women in those societies where this practice still exists. The time to empower our women and girls is now.

This map shows the global prevalence of FGM. (dofeve.org/The Woman Stats Project)
This map shows the global prevalence of FGM. (dofeve.org/The Woman Stats Project)

Here also is today’s message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. He pays tribute to some individuals and organizations who are demanding an end to this incredibly cruel and dangerous practice. You can find more at http://www.un.org/en/events/femalegenitalmutilationday/index.shtml

Never before has it been more urgent – or more possible – to end the practice of female genital mutilation, preventing immeasurable human suffering and boosting the power of women and girls to have a positive impact on our world.

The urgency can be seen in the numbers. New estimates reveal that in 2016 at least 200 million girls and women alive now have undergone some form of FGM. The numbers keep growing both because more countries are paying attention to FGM and collecting data – which represents good progress– and because progress in ending the practice is not keeping pace with population growth – which is not at all good. If current trends continue, more girls will be cut every year by 2030 than today owing to high fertility rates and youthful populations found in most communities where FGM is prevalent. And since the practice increases risks in childbirth, it causes harm to today’s girls as well as the next generation.

The potential for faster progress for success in eliminating FGM is also clear. This International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is the first since the visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all countries with a pledge to leave no one behind. The Sustainable Development Goals contain a specific target calling for an end to FGM. When this practice is fully abandoned, positive effects will reverberate across societies as girls and women reclaim their health, human rights and vast potential.

Today I raise my voice and call on others to join me in empowering communities which themselves are eager for change. I count on governments to honour their pledges with support from civil society, health providers, the media and young people. My Every Woman Every Child movement offers a partnership platform for action.

Sonyanga Ole Ngais is captain of the Maasai Warriors cricket team and an outspoken human rights and environmental advocate. He and his team travel across Kenya raising awareness on sexual health and gender equality.  (Photo: DW/A. Wasike)
Sonyanga Ole Ngais is captain of the Maasai Warriors cricket team and an outspoken human rights and environmental advocate. He and his team travel across Kenya raising awareness on sexual health and gender equality. (Photo: DW/A. Wasike)

I am encouraged by the rising chorus of young voices demanding an end to the practice – and I echo their principled insistence on upholding and defending human rights for all. I am inspired by the brave Maasai warriors and cricket stars, such as Sonyanga Ole Ngais, who use their position and influence to demand protection for their sisters. I am heartened by the work of health providers, such as Edna Adan, founder of the Maternity Hospital in Somaliland that bears her name, who insists that every single health worker under her be well-prepared to tackle FGM. And I am grateful for the engagement of The Guardian, which is expanding its work on ending FGM to Nigeria, and to so many other media outlets and reporters shining a spotlight this issue.

Edna Adan is a tireless women’s health advocate. She fought to build a maternity hospital (now named after her) in her native Somaliland. A midwife by training, she continuously fights against the practice of FGM.
Edna Adan is a tireless women’s health advocate. She fought to build a maternity hospital (now named after her) in her native Somaliland. A midwife by training, she continuously fights against the practice of FGM.

We can end FGM within a generation, bringing us closer to a world where the human rights of all every woman, child and adolescent are fully respected, their health is protected, and they can contribute more to our common future.


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