Experts canvass greater sanctions against FGM practice - As the world marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Modulation (FGM), participants in a conference here on sexual health and rights have called on the United Nations to apply greater sanctions against countries and individuals practicing the scourge.
The participants said FGM, because of its harmful and destructive effects on women as well as girls, should be seen as a crime against humanity whose perpetrators should be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Switzerland.
“It should be regarded as a crime against humanity. It is an act of violence against women and girls, which is rooted in negative socio-cultural and traditional practices,' Pamela Judith from Uganda told the gathering.
Health experts said FGM causes grave harm to individuals, with immediate and long-term negative health effects like constant pains, infections and complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
“The point is that women do not have a strong voice to make FGM known as a crime against humanity, similar to cases that go before the ICC. Let's take our case higher to the ICC, which I believe will help reduce its prevalence,' she added.
To mark the day, the UN said in a statement that although it is difficult to get a firm statistics on FGM, it is estimated that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
It added that if current trend continues, some 86 million young girls globally are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030.
For Dr. Laurien Nyabienda from Rwanda, FGM is most disturbing and suggested the need to engage medical councils in countries with high prevalence rate in Africa, to sanction any practitioner that engages in the practice.
“If the UN sanctions warlords and bring them for trials, why doesn’t the UN do the same against medical councils that encourage the practice. The political leaders also need to do more to legislate against it,' he emphasised.
Recently, Uganda, Kenya and Guinea–Bissau adopted laws to end FGM.
In Ethiopia, those responsible for the practice have been arrested, tried and penalised.
But in some other African countries with legislation against FGM, enforcement has not been achieved.
The UN said that apart from supporting the campaign against FGM, it is working with partners to help victims of the practice with medical assistance.
Pioneering medical advances now allow doctors to repair women’s bodies and restore their health. In Burkina-Faso, where surgery have been carried on victims, the result has been remarkable with 100% effectiveness.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ”Preserve the Best in Culture and Leave Harm Behind'.
The UN General Assembly’s landmark resolution proclaiming this Day was sponsored by every country in Africa and embraced by the entire membership of the UN.