UNICEF reiterates call to governments to end female genital mutilation
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has again called on governments to move swiftly to stop female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C), a harmful practice that has currently affected more than 130 million women and girls in countries ranging from Senegal and Mali to Yemen and Oman.
“Female genital mutilation and cutting is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a message on the eve of the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation. “It is a dangerous and irreversible procedure that negatively impacts the general health, child-bearing capabilities and educational opportunities of girls and women.”
FGM/C is also being performed in some parts of southeast Asia and reports from Europe, North America, and Australia show the prevalence of the practice among immigrant communities.
Ms. Bellamy said ending all forms of FGM/C is crucial to the success of two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): improving maternal health and promoting gender equality. She reiterated UNICEF’s call on governments to abide by commitments to abandon the practice.
The 2002 UN Special Session on Children, endorsed by 69 Heads of State and government and 190 high-level national delegations, set a goal to end female genital mutilation and cutting by 2010.
UNICEF said it believes that in order to end the practice, nations must build a protective environment for children and comprehensive, culturally sensitive approaches are needed to change community attitudes toward FGM/C, a deeply-rooted tradition that in many societies is believed to be a religious obligation.
A majority of UNICEF offices in countries where FGM/C is prevalent are now working with communities towards the abandonment of the practice. The countries include Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Oman.