International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is observed on February 6 to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM) and to take concrete actions against it. In December 2012, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by WHO (World Health Organisation) and the UN agencies as “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.
FGM is practiced as a tradition in many communities in 28 countries in Africa and in some countries in Asia and the Middle East. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to the practice in 30 countries; and more than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually. The causes of female genital mutilation include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities.
It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. The practice also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.
No health benefits, only harm
FGM involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, hence it interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. It has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women with many health problems.
Health complications of FGM
Immediate complications are: Severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue and death.
Long-term consequences can be:
Although the practice of FGM cannot be justified by medical reasons, in many countries the procedure is performed by a health-care provider. According to new WHO guidelines, health-care providers should know: #endFGM
If the practice continues, around 86 million additional girls globally will be subjected to this torture by 2030. Thus, there was an urgent need to abandon this inhumane practice, for which United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have established a joint programme on FGM, a largest global programme to eliminate FGM and to provide care for its consequences.
The Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under goal 5 on gender equality, target 5.3 eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.