Today is the 12th International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM is a form of violence against women that involves the alteration of female genitalia through cutting, altering, or injuring for non-medical reasons. While it occurs in different forms, one thing is certain: FGM is a social practice that has no health benefits. In fact, the World Health Organization condemns FGM as violation of human rights that causes “lifelong physical and emotional trauma.” Although practiced worldwide, FGM is most commonly performed in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The United Nations estimates that over 130 million women have undergone the procedure. Additionally, they estimate that 86 million more will be impacted by 2030. Many cultures believe that without FGM, women are not eligible for marriage and lifelong economic security. It is most often performed on young women from infancy until the age of 15. Women who have undergone FGM may be plagued with health consequences for the rest of their lives that may impact their ability to have their own children. We know for a fact that FGM can cause health problems, increase the risk of HIV transmission, and increase mother and infant mortality rates.
Despite this horrific reality, there is hope and an opportunity for action. A UNICEF study suggests that “if public dialogues can be initiated, people may begin to see that social expectations about the practice are no longer valid.” Survivors of FGM have become activists within their communities using grassroots educational efforts to help the next generation of girls. You can learn more about their work through the Equity Now Foundation’s film Africa Rising. Today is a chance for people worldwide to take a stand against FGM!
You can contribute to this dialogue by sharing this post and other facts about the practice on social media. Join a worldwide conversation about protecting the rights of women and girls!
Spread the word! Tag your posts with #EndFGM and #TogetherforZero