UN: Ending female genital mutilation vital for healthy communities

New York, US (PANA) - The outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay,
on Monday 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 if women, girls and their communities are to thrive.

"This harmful and degrading practice is not based on any valid premise," Ms. Pillay said at a
high-level panel held in Geneva by the UN Human Rights Council on identifying good practices
to combat female genital mutilation.

A UN statement on the meeting, issued at the UN headquarters in New York, said the 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 recognized 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."

She said: "When FGM is eradicated, communities are healthier, and freed 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."

She also noted that 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," Ms. Pillay added.

"Justifications for FGM are also linked to what are considered to be the characteristics of a
'proper' wife," she stated.

She said: "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

The human rights chief also said: "Economic factors, can also play a significant role in
contributing to the persistence of female genital mutilation. 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

"But FGM can be eradicated, and there are encouraging signs of this at national, regional
and international level," she said.

She 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 practise has declined.

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, more than 125 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM.

UNICEF said if current trends persist, as many as 30 million girls are at risk of undergoing
this practice over the next decade.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 16June2014

16 june 2014 16:02:25

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