February 6: International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was observed on February 6, 2018. The day is observed every year to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation. It was first introduced in 2003.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The practice reflects deep-rooted gender inequality and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. It 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.
Coordinated and systematic efforts, engaging the whole community and laying focus on human rights and gender equality, are required to abolish the practice
The efforts need to be in the direction of promoting 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.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) along with THE United Nations Children's Fund (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.
• Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.
• Girls who are 14 and below represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence being in Gambia at 56 per cent followed by Mauritania at 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of the girls aged between 11 and younger have undergone the practice.
• Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged between 15 to 49 are Somalia at 98 per cent, Guinea at 97 per cent and Djibouti at 93 per cent.
• FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and the age of 15.
• FGM causes severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths.
• The practice is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 call for an end to FGM by 2030 under Goal 5 on Gender Equality and elimination of all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.