The World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined FGM as “procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. Carrying out this risky practice reflects deep-rooted cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities. However, a harmful cultural tradition, which is not prescribed by any religion, should not be used as a legitimate reason to continue violating women’s and girls’ rights and put their health at risk.
FGM does not have any health benefits but, on the contrary, interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. In many cases FGM causes serious pain, bleeding, bacterial infections, and long-term consequences can include infertility and increased risk of childbirth complications and often death. Around 140 million girls and women are living with the consequences of FGM worldwide; and in Africa alone approximately 92 million girls above the age of 10 are estimated to have undergone FGM including an estimated rate of 76 percent of women and girls in The Gambia. In order for these numbers to decrease in the future, it is important to pool our efforts and to jointly work on eliminating this harmful practice and support the key initiatives already taken by various CSO’s and other actors.
Throughout the world, calls to put an end to FGM have intensified and gained strength. The United Nations and the European Union lead the way and are fully committed to eliminating gender-based violence, including FGM. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/67/146, calling for “all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit FGM and to protect women and girls from this form of violence, and to end impunity”. The European Union is promoting enhanced international protection of women and girls at risk of FGM through the Cotonou Agreement and the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, etc.
It is our view that no one should be subjected to bodily harm and put at severe risk of long-lasting health implications through a practice which is not medically necessary; and in order to achieve this vision for all women and girls worldwide, we invite you to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on the 6th February together with the rest of the international community. On this day, let us all take a moment to reflect on the young girls and women who have experienced this harmful practice and whose rights have been violated, and renew our commitments, through our different initiatives, to eliminating FGM and stopping gender-based violence throughout the world.]]>