FGM violates rights to health, security and physical integrity

06Feb 2018
The Guardian
FGM violates rights to health, security and physical integrity

FEMALE genital mutilation (FGM) has been prohibited by law in Tanzania since 1998, but the law has not been effectively enforced. Civil society organisation have urged the government to take more effective action to end the practice of FGM, through education and enforcement of the law.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working locally in Tanzania have been engaged in awareness-raising campaigns about FGM and have also been training the police on the law against FGM.

Also sustainable development demands full human rights for all women and girls. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises an end to Female genital mutilation (FGM) practice by 2030.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

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.

To promote the abandonment of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality. These efforts should emphasize societal dialogue and the empowerment of communities to act collectively to end the practice. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. The programme currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.

Key Facts include globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice. Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 per cent, Guinea 97 per cent and Djibouti 93 per cent. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15. FGM cause severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths. FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

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.

The elimination of FGM has been called for by numerous inter-governmental organisations, including the African Union, the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, as well as in three resolutions of the United Nations General.