|UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon © Andy Rain / Reuters|
Speaking at a meeting to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation (FGM) at the United Nations headquarters in New York Monday, the UN chief said the practice should be replaced.
“Better ways to mark the rite of passage into womanhood” should be found, Ban Ki-moon said, as quoted by Reuters. As an example, the UN chief mentioned physically non-harmful customs in Kenya and Tanzania, where young girls spend a week away from their families, learning life skills, instead of suffering the brutal procedure.
"Cutting me was telling me that I'm not good enough," Malian survivor Inna Modja emotionally told the meeting, adding that she felt like she "would never become a woman because I had something missing."
|A woman and her daughters stand in their home, in the village of Cambadju in Bafatá Region. (see map below) © unicef.org|
Despite the FGM practice being widely condemned as a serious human rights abuse, new data from the UN's children's UNICEF agency suggests that more than 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have been subjected to the ritual.
The newly released global figure is nearly 70 million more than the agency estimated in 2014. Half of girls and women who have been cut live in three countries – Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
UNICEF said the increase in the number is largely due to the previously unavailable data from Indonesia. The highest rate of FGM is in Somalia, according to the UN, where 98 percent of the female population aged between 15 and 49 have suffered the practice.
The UN has been seeking ways to end the ancient ritual that usually involves partial or total removal of female external genitalia. Last year, a set of anti-FGM development goals were adopted by UN member states, aiming to eliminate the practice by 2030.
More horrifying details
A new UNICEF report says at least 200 million women and girls have suffered the terrible practice of genital mutilation in 30 countries across the world. In some countries the procedure is practically universal.
Of these 200 million “more than half live in just three countries: Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia” while 44 million “are girls below age 15,” the report says, adding, “the exact number of girls and women worldwide who have undergone FGM [Female Genital Mutilation] remains unknown”.
According to the paper, Somalia, Guinea and Djibouti have the highest percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years who have undergone the practice.
"In countries like Somalia, Guinea and Djibouti, the practice is practically universal," Claudia Cappa, the lead author of the report said, as cited by AFP, “Being born in those countries means you have 9 out of 10 possibilities of undergoing the practice."
Gambia, Mauritania, Indonesia were the most dangerous countries for girls of 14 and under.
"Female genital mutilation differs across regions and cultures, with some forms involving life-threatening health risks. In every case FGM violates the rights of girls and women," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta.
A little good news
However, report notes that the prevalence of the terrible practice has dropped in these 30 countries, from 51 percent in 1985 to 37 percent today.
“Since 2008, more than 15,000 communities and sub-districts in 20 countries have publicly declared that they are abandoning FGM, including more than 2,000 communities last year. Five countries have passed national legislation criminalizing the practice,” the report said.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a traditional practice to partially or completely remove the outer sexual organs. It is mainly performed in Africa and in several countries in the Middle East (Yemen, Kurdish communities, Saudi Arabia) and Asia.
The causes of the practice may be cultural, religious or social conventions within families and communities of certain regions. Among some peoples FGM is considered a necessary part of raising a girl properly and preparing her for marriage.
FGM has no health benefits, while complications can include severe pain, shock, bleeding, tetanus, sepsis, urine retention, recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, as well as infertility, increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths and other problems, according to the World Health Organization.
|Bafata Region, Guinea-Bissau|