Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today reported that three million girls are at risk every year of female genital mutilation/cutting.
In the observance of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, Ms. Clinton said it is estimated that 100 to 140 million women around the world have undergone the brutal procedure.
“We must continue to act to end this affront to women’s equality and the rights and dignity of women and girls.” – Ms. Clinton
She notes that no religion mandates this procedure, though it occurs across cultures, religions, and continents.
She says FGM is performed on girls in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
She underlines that even in the United States, they are fighting the practice. FGM/C became a federal crime in the United States in 1997, but the procedure persists in some communities.
She stresses that the U.S. Government is working with practitioners in the health and legal community to educate groups about the negative consequences of FGM/C.
“Over the years, community advocates have found that when men come to understand the physical and psychological trauma FGM/C causes, they often become effective activists for eradication, including fathers who refuse to allow their daughters to be subject to the procedure.” -Ms. Clinton
She calls for all communities tot act collectively to abandon the practice, so that girls and their families who opt out do not become social outcasts.
She cites that around 6,000 communities across Africa to abandon the practice, usually through a public declaration.
“Communities working together can ensure stronger, healthier futures for girls and young women.” -Ms. Clinton
She stresses that every government has an obligation to protect its citizens from such abuse.
“As we commemorate International Day of Zero Tolerance and remember those who have been harmed, we reaffirm our commitment to overturning deeply entrenched social norms and abolishing this practice.” -Ms. Clinton
She emphasizes that all women and girls deserve the opportunity to realize their potential.
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is a UN-sponsored awareness day that takes place February 6 each year. It is an effort to make the world aware of female genital cutting and to promote its abolishment.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other non-medical injury to the female genital organs. FGM is carried out for cultural and religious traditions, but is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
FGM is associated with anachronistic cultural values of femininity and modesty – often considered a necessary part of raising a girl properly and preparing her for adulthood and marriage. It is this aspect that makes it that much harder to fight. But the battle has been on for years now, with concerted efforts being made to spread awareness about FGM’s life altering ill-effects for women.