International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is a UN-sponsored awareness day that takes place February 6 each year. ChildFund Ireland is committed to the abandonment of this practice. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a gross violation of the human rights of girls and women around the world. FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and has absolutely no health benefits for girls and women.
FGM harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. It reflects a discriminatory attitude towards women and as FGM is nearly always carried out on minors it is a fundamental violation of the rights of children. According to the World Health Organisation more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated. It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15. In Africa, more than three million girls have been estimated to be at risk for FGM annually.
In most societies, FGM is considered a cultural tradition, which is often used as an argument for its continuation. FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl properly, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour. FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are “clean” and “beautiful” after removal of body parts that are considered “unclean”. Local structures of power and authority, such as community leaders and religious leaders can contribute to upholding the practice. It is often performed by traditional practitioners, including midwives and barbers, without anaesthesia and using scissors, razor blades or broken glass.
Wider international involvement and advocacy is needed to stop FGM. Strengthening the health sector response and generating knowledge about the causes and consequences of FGM is the best way to combat this harmful practice. At the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in 2002, governments forged a commitment to end FGM by 2010. In February 2003, 30 African countries vowed to end FGM and called for the establishment of an International Day of Zero Tolerance, which we are observing today.
Female genital mutilation violates girls’ and women’s human rights, denying them their physical and mental integrity, their right to freedom from violence and discrimination and, in the most extreme cases, their lives.
Find out more about FGM by following this link –