August 19th 2009
By vital voices staff
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) recently released the ‘Global Consultation on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting’, in which the global trends and prevalence of FGM/C are examined. A World Health Organization estimate indicates that between 100 and 140 million girls worldwide have undergone some form of either practice, with the UN Children’s Fund estimating that 3 million girls are at risk of being mutilated or cut annually.
In consideration of legal provisions to protect against FGM/C, Faiza Jama Mohamed of Equality Now explains that the practice constitutes torture as a violation of fundamental human rights and in accordance with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Despite the pervasiveness of FGM/C on the African continent, only 16 countries have enacted laws criminalizing the practice. Inconsistencies in defining FGM/C, as well as in sentencing for those convicted of the crime contribute to the perpetuation of the practice.
Examining the perceived function or reasoning behind FGM/C, the study finds that the practice is “linked to marriageability,” which families prefer and seek out for their daughters. The implications that this social pressure and perception has in preventative efforts leads advocates on the ground to “facilitate dialogue…reflect non-coercive and non-judgmental discussion,” and attempt to encourage a collective group decision to forego FGM/C.
Read the full report: Global Consultation on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting-UNFPA Report