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UNICEF calls on governments to fulfil pledge to end female genital mutilation

UNICEF calls on governments to fulfil pledge to end female genital mutilation

Troubled by figures indicating that between 100 million and 130 million women suffered female genital mutilation or cutting as girls, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today governments must abide by commitments they made to end the disturbing phenomenon.

"The 100 million women who endured female genital mutilation (FGM) as young girls are living proof that the world has failed to protect them," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. "This is why governments and communities alike must take immediate action to put an end to this practice."

Ms. Bellamy's call for action came on the International Day Against FGM, launched by the Inter-African Committee for traditional practices in Addis Ababa today. She stated that genital mutilation and other forms of violence against girls occur on a daily basis across the globe - in Africa, South and East Asia and in parts of Europe, North America and Australia. "This is why we call on world leaders to stand by their commitment and end the practice by 2010," she said." These girls deserve nothing less."

While political leadership is critical for ending the practice, the work of civil society is equally significant. UNICEF welcomed an initiative of the international non-governmental organization called "Stop FGM," which was launched at the European Parliament in December. The organization's work focuses on building a protective environment for children that safeguards them from abuse and exploitation.