On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation today, UN Women urges the world to work together to eliminate this worldwide practice of female genital mutilation. 

According to the latest available data, at least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries with representative data on prevalence have undergone female genital mutilations 

UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General, wrote, “The cutting and sewing of a young child’s private parts so that she is substantially damaged for the rest of her life, has no sensation during sex except probably pain, and may well face further damage when she gives birth, is to many an obvious and horrifying violation of that child’s rights.”

Some facts on FGM: 

  • 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 causes severe bleeding and health issues, including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Source: United Nation Organisation

To subject a girl to this kind of control from an early age violates her rights and conditions her to stay enslaved under the false blanket of tradition and culture. The countries that observe such practices are also the ones where there are high rates of gender inequality, poor female health, low education for girls. Women are subjected more towards domestic responsibilities and their freewill is obviously just out of the question. It should also be noted that girls are more likely subjected to FGM if their mothers are uneducated.

A vicious cycle that sees no end is created by such practices in countries that believe in these “traditions”. The day is recognised to inform people about the kind of gender control that takes place even today around the world. These are the practices that hinder the process of equality, and limit women’s empowerment.

The idea that enslavement to oppressive rituals has been happening for years creates a mindset amongst these women who are taught to believe that THIS is normal. And hence comes the importance of this day. It is NOT normal to alter a woman’s body without her consent. It is NOT normal to not give her a choice. It is NOT normal to confine her to the four walls of the house and use her as a reproductive machine.

With this day, the United Nations spreads the message of choice, and freedom that is much needed for the girls that go through this trauma.

Feature Image Courtesy: UNFPA Ghana