The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today called for greater efforts to end the harmful practice of female genital mutilation and protect the rights of women and girls worldwide.
“Intensified efforts are urgently needed to stop the practice in all its forms,” UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid stated in a message marking the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation.
Each year between two and three million women and girls are subjected to FGM, the partial or total removal of external female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons.
More than 100 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice, which leaves lasting physical and psychological scars and increases the risks of problems during childbirth. “Many women and girls are traumatized by the experience and suffer in silence, afraid of being excluded from their communities,” Ms. Obaid noted.
She pledged UNFPA’s increased support for efforts to end FGM, and called on governments to develop effective policies to combat the practice and to support the development of prevention and education programmes.
Last August, UNFPA and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a $44 million programme to reduce the harmful practice by 40 per cent by 2015 and to end it within a generation.
In partnership with governments, religious leaders, reproductive health providers, media and civil society, the initiative encourages communities in 16 African countries with high prevalence to abandon the practice.
In addition to Africa, various forms of FGM have also been reported in parts of some Middle Eastern and Asian countries. It is also practised in immigrant communities around the world.