UN: UN tasks health workers on eliminating female genital mutilation

New York, US (PANA) - On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, marked every year on 6 February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on health workers around the world to eliminate a "deeply harmful" practice.

This year's commemoration of the day is focused on "Ending the Medicalization" of the procedure.

Ban in his message stated: "Change is coming from within the communities, and breaking the silence and disproving the myths around female genital mutilation are the first steps along the way to eliminating it altogether.

"If everyone mobilized – women, men and young people – it is possible, in this generation, to
end a practice that currently affects some 130 million girls and women in 29 countries where
we have data."

"I call for all people to end FGM and create the future we want where every girl can grow up free of violence and discrimination, with full dignity, human rights and equality," the UN chief noted.

He said he was truly inspired by actions already being taken by health professionals, such
as the Mauritanian Association of Midwives, which refused to practice female genital mutilation
and actively promoted the abandonment of the practice.

"We must also ensure that parents do not seek to bypass health workers in finding alternative
methods of subjecting their daughters to FGM," the secretary-general added.

In a joint statement by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) along with the International Confederation of Midwives and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), they said that, the support of health workers in the global efforts to end FGM was critical.

"Health workers also have a deep understanding of the harmful consequences of this practice. They see the urinary, menstrual, and obstetric complications – including haemorrhage, infection and death – caused by it. And, they also witness the emotional wounds FGM inflicts, trauma which often lasts a lifetime," they stated.

According to UNICEF, around one in five girls have been cut by a trained health-care provider, and in some countries, this can reach as high as three in four girls.

The UN agencies said that countries with the highest number of FGM cases performed by health workers were Egypt (77 per cent), Sudan (55 per cent), Kenya (41 per cent), (Nigeria, 29 per cent), and (Guinea, 27 per cent).

Female genital mutilation (FGM) violates the human rights and undermines the health and
well-being of some 3 million girls each year.

FGM is illegal in many countries, and medical providers who perform it in these places are
breaking the law. But in every country, whether legal or not, medical providers who perform
FGM are violating the fundamental rights of girls and women.

UNICEF said FGM reflected deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constituted an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.

The statement said the practice, concentrated in some 29 countries in Africa and the  Middle East, from Yemen and Gambia to Somalia and Mauritania, also violated a woman's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Nearly one in five women who has undergone FGM lives in Egypt. The practice is almost universal in Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt, where more than 90 per cent of girls and women have been cut.

UNFPA and UNICEF are jointly implementing the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM.

According to the UN, FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways and it involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.

It also said immediate complications could include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.

Also, long-term consequences can include recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections,
cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths, and
the need for later surgeries.
-0- PANA AA/MA 6Feb2015

06 february 2015 20:52:44

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