UN: UN report reveals rise in female genital mutilation in Guinea

New York, US (PANA) - Despite being forbidden by national and international
law, a new UN report, stated that female genital mutilation (FGM) shows no
sign of abating in Guinea, with more infants and very young girls undergoing
the excisions than before.

UN human rights chief Zeid Al Hussein in a statement on the report, said:
"Although female genital mutilation appears to be decreasing worldwide,
this is not the case in Guinea, where this practice is widespread in every
region and among every ethnic, religious and social group."

He said that, in recent years, female genital mutilation and or excision has
been inflicted on girls at a younger age, noting that, according to a recent
study, 69 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 were excised before the age
of 10.

"In Guinea, female genital mutilation is mostly seen as an initiation rite.
Groups of girls from multiple families are often excised together, either at
home or in camps.

"However, due to financial constraints and out of fear of legal sanctions,
the report shows an increasing trend towards individual excisions,
especially when it comes to excising infants or very young girls,"
Al Hussein said.

He also said that, "although FGM is usually carried out by traditional
excision practitioners, there is also a growing trend towards its
medicalization, despite a 2010 decree specifically prohibiting public or
private health institutions from practicing it."

The UN human rights chief also noted that after Somalia, Guinea had
the highest rate of female genital mutilation in the world, by far
surpassing its immediate neighbours, namely Senegal, with 25 per cent,
Cote d’Ivoire, with 38 per cent, and Liberia with 50 per cent.

"Female genital mutilation is not only extremely detrimental to women
and girls’ health and well-being, it is also an atrocious act of violence,
and there is no possible justification for this practice – no cultural,
religious or medical reason whatsoever," he added.

The statement also said that, while most women in countries where
the practice is still occurring advocate for its abolition, an increasing
number in Guinea support it.

It said a study by the Institut national de la statistique showed that
the proportion of women and girls in favour of the practice rose from
65 per cent in 1999 to 76 per cent in 2012.

It stated: "Broadly speaking, non-excision of girls is considered
dishonourable in Guinean society, and social pressure is such that
girls may request excision for fear of being excluded or forced to
remain unmarried if they do not suffer the practice."

The report however acknowledged that the Guinean government has
attempted to prevent and sanction the practice by adopting numerous
legislative texts and regulations, and organizing training for judicial,
security and medical personnel.

It, however, said due to some political and religious leaders’ support,
these efforts have thus far not resulted in any decrease of this
harmful practice.

According to the report, the persistence of the practice is in large part
due to the lack of action by the judicial authorities.

It said: "Generally speaking, legal texts prohibiting female genital
mutilation and/or excision are not respected, and thousands of young
girls are excised across the country every year, during school
vacations, with the full knowledge of judicial personnel, including
prosecutors and instructing magistrates."

"Excision practitioners are rarely subjected to legal proceedings and
no medical professionals have been sanctioned for carrying out
female genital mutilation," it said.

The report also noted that when justice personnel have tried to address
the issue, they have often been subjected to severe pressure and
threats,and since 2014, only eight people have been convicted in
connection with FGM and all of them received suspended sentences
and or small fines.

The report also warned that, government-, national and international
organization-launched awareness campaigns focusing on associated
health risks have, paradoxically, seemed to have contributed to the
medicalization of the practice rather than to its reduction.

It called on the authorities to ensure the full respect and enforcement
of all relevant legislation, with independent and impartial investigation
of every suspected case of such excision, and the prosecution of
perpetrators and their accomplices.
-0-  PANA  AA  25April2016

25 april 2016 21:12:49

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