February 6, 2019
Ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February, 2019, a joint statement from, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, has called for the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030, stating that the practice was not only harmful, but also a human rights violation.
The statement said in 2015, world leaders overwhelmingly backed the elimination of female genital mutilation as one of the targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, thus stating that it was an achievable goal which they must act on now to translate that political commitment into action.
The joint release urged governments in countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent to develop national action plans to end the practice, thus suggesting that government’s plans must include budget lines dedicated to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, education, social welfare and legal services.
The statement observed that female genital mutilation is a form of gender-based violence and cannot be addressed in isolation from other forms of violence against women and girls, such as early and forced marriages, thus noting that the root causes of gender inequality and work for women’s social and economic empowerment must be addressed first.
It notes that the effort is especially critical because female genital mutilation doesn’t only leads to long-term physical, psychological and social consequences but also violates women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity, non-discrimination and freedom from cruel or degrading treatment.
“It is also a violation of medical ethics: Female genital mutilation is never safe, no matter who carries it out or how clean the venue is,” the stamen states.
The statement also called on institutions and economic communities to work together, with the view of preventing the movement of girls and women across borders when the purpose is to get them into countries with less restrictive female genital mutilation laws.
At the local cadre, the statement says there was need for religious leaders to strike down myths that female genital mutilation has a basis in religion.
“Because societal pressures often drive the practice, individuals and families need more information about the benefits of abandoning it” says the release.
The statement suggested that public pledges to abandon female genital mutilation – particularly pledges by entire communities – are an effective model of collective commitment but that those pledges must be paired with comprehensive strategies for challenging the social norms, practices and behaviours that condone female genital mutilation.
To emphasise on the severity on FGM, the statement made an allusion to Mary Oloiparuni, who was 13 when she was mutilated. It notes that at 6, the scarring Mary endured then continues to cause her pain, 19 years later, thus stating that it has made giving birth to each of her five children an excruciating and harrowing experience.
“Testimonials by survivors like Mary also help to build understanding of the practice’s grim reality and long-lasting impact on women’s lives. Advocacy campaigns and social media can amplify the message that ending female genital mutilation saves and improves lives,” the statement notes.