NEW YORK – Ms. Navi Pillay, the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for concerted efforts to urgently address Female Genital Mutilation (FMG), calling it a form of gender-based discrimination and violence that must be eradicated.
The UN commissioner, on Monday, said FMG must be eradicated if women, girls and communities were to thrive.
“This harmful and degrading practice is not based on any valid premise,” Pillay said at a
high-level panel held in Geneva by the UN Human Rights Council on identifying good practices to combat FGM.
A UN statement on the meeting, issued at the UN Headquarters in New York, said “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) refers to a number of practices which involve cutting away part or all of a girl’s external genitalia.’’
It said that the practice, which is recognised globally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, has no health benefits, and causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences.
It said the UN human rights chief noted that “FGM generates profoundly damaging, irreversible and life-long physical damage and increases the risk of neonatal death for babies born to women who have survived it.
“When FGM is eradicated, communities are healthier and free of the terrible pain and trauma that FGM creates.
“Girls and women are more able to develop their talents and use their skills.
“Economic, social and political development can surge forward.’’
According to her, FGM is not only a form of gender-based discrimination and violence, it represents a way to exercise control over women and perpetuates harmful gender roles.
“Among other things, the practice may be traditionally considered necessary to raise a girl properly and to prepare her for adulthood and marriage.
“It is believed that the practice preserves a girl’s or woman’s virginity or restrains sexual desire, thereby preventing sexual behaviour that is considered immoral or inappropriate.
“In many settings, the families of girls who have been mutilated will receive a better bride price because the young women concerned are assumed to be more submissive and less likely to seek their own sexual pleasure.
“But FGM can be eradicated, and there are encouraging signs of this at national, regional and international levels.’’
The commissioner also said that at the national level, several states have adopted legislation and policies to end FGM and where laws have been accompanied by culturally sensitive education and public awareness outreach, the practice has reduced.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has estimated that globally, the prevalence of FGM declined by 5 per cent between 2005 and 2010.
According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in the 29 countries with the highest prevalence rate, over 125 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM.
UNICEF said if current trends persisted, as many as 30 million girls were at risk of undergoing this practice over the next decade. (PANA/NAN)