Actualités en ligne & Information France Afrique


Last updateMar, 27 Jan 2015 10pm


Society: UN officials call for end to female genital mutilation

UN officials on Thursday called for a complete end to genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) to ensure the dignity, health and well-being of every girl, noting that despite a century of efforts, millions of girls worldwide are still threatened by the horrible practice.

PANA in New York reports that the call was made to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated, more than 125 million girls and women have been cut.

The agency also projected that a further 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030, if current trends continue.

UNFPA Executive Director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, in a statement to mark the Day, said: 'It is unacceptable that these human rights violations continue to threaten the lives and futures of so many women and girls.'

He stated: 'It is an affront to their human dignity, an assault on their health and an impediment to the well-being of their families, communities and countries. Human development cannot be fully achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from this human rights violation or live in fear of it.'

Prof. Osotimehin noted that there have been successes in accelerating the abandonment of FGM/C, which refers to a number of practices which involve cutting away part or all of a girl’s external genitalia in some communities and countries.

'For example, Uganda, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau have recently adopted laws criminalizing the practice.

'In Ethiopia, a traditional cutter and the parents of six girls were penalized in a highly publicized case that helped raise awareness about the issue.

'Also, a number of other countries have adopted culturally sensitive programmes aimed at changing social norms, often by engaging community elders, men and boys,' he stated.

The UNFPA chief, however, said: 'The challenge of eliminating female genital mutilation/cutting everywhere remains enormous and we must step up our efforts.

'In the 21st century, no woman or girl should suffer or die due to FGM/C.'

Addressing the persistent inequalities that negatively affect women’s and girl’s health and well-being is our unfinished business,' Prof. Osotimehin added.

On his part, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the Day, highlighted the need 'to strive to preserve the best in any culture, and leave harm behind'.

Ban noted that there is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman.

'Although some would argue that this is a tradition, we must recall that slavery, so-called honour killings and other inhumane practices have been defended with the same weak argument,' he said.

'Just because a harmful practice has long existed does not justify its continuation. All traditions that demean, dehumanize and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended,' he stated.

But, the UN chief noted 'the positive signs of progress' in the global push to end this harmful practice, saying: 'Girls themselves instinctively understand the dangers of being cut, and many mothers who have seen or experienced the trauma want to shield their daughters.'

'It is encouraging, that an increasing number of communities are coming together and agreeing publicly to end female genital mutilation and ensure a better life for their girls,' Ban said.

The UN and its partners, he added, are engaged in valuable, culturally-sensitive activities that aim to stop female genital mutilation without scolding or shame.

'In addition to prevention, the UN is working with partners to help those who have been affected by FGM,' the seceatry-general asserted.

He also recalled that the UN General Assembly’s landmark resolution proclaiming the Day was sponsored by every country in Africa and embraced by the entire membership of the UN.

'Now our challenge is to give real meaning to this Day by using it to generate public support, trigger legal and practical advances, and help girls and women at risk of or affected by female genital mutilation,' he concluded.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. John Ashe, also called on governments, civil society organisations, religious leaders and community groups to work together to encourage progress towards change and to promote an end to a practice that harms so many girls and women.

'As with all deeply-entrenched practices, achieving the end of FGM will take action at every societal level. Condemnation and laws and policies banning the practice are important, but will not be enough,' Mr. Ashe said.

He said: 'The need for governments, religious leaders, health workers, countries hosting practicing migrant communities, and grass roots organisations to join forces to end FGM in one generation is now more urgent than ever'.

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), observed annually on 6 February, aims to eliminate procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It also calls for action on violating the rights of millions of women and girls while threatening their lives and futures.

A landmark Resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2012 to intensify global efforts to eliminate FGM.

Since 2008, UNFPA and UNICEF have collaborated on a Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, helping to accelerate change in 15 countries in West, East and North Africa.

Pana 07/02/2014