Stopping Female Genital Mutilation In The 21st Century

Every February 6 is set aside as the International Day of Zero Tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Though many countries of the world recognise the practice of FGM as illegal, there are solid traditional communities that still hold on to this practice even though it is a violation of human rights. More than 200 million women worldwide have experienced it and about 3 million girls are estimated to be at the risk of this dangerous practice every year. Though there is a pervasiveness of FGM practices among girls and women in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, a significant number of girls of immigrant communities in Europe and America are also not spared. In the US, the Center of Diseases and Control Prevention noted that about 513,000 girls and women were either victims of FGM or risk of FGM. Most of often, these are migrants. In Africa, only 1% of Uganda women have experienced FGM, 98% of Somalia women have undergone it. Though 78% of Burkina Faso women have had FGM, only 10% of Burkina Faso men are in favour of it. 

FGM is a mutilation and not circumcision.  Some people refer to it as female circumcision. This is wrong and can erroneously make it acceptable. Male circumcision cuts the foreskin, FGM cuts the clitoris. The reality of what girls go through during FGM and the trauma of the aftermath is nothing pleasant or beneficial in any way. It is a practice fueled by ignorance. 

The good news is that so many institutions such as NGOs, governments, media, law firms are working vigorously to curb the trends of FGM, especially in developing countries. While there is a global effort to end FGM, you can also participate to shutdown the myth behind FGM. You may want to join or donate to an anti-FGM group or fight against it separately. The choice is yours. Below are some of the anti-FGM organisations; Daughters of Eve28 Too ManyForwardThe Desert Flower Foundation and many others.

Help create awareness about FGM by sharing stories about it.  The girls who bleed to death while being cut, those who find sex unpleasant and grow frigid and consequently lose their marriages, the chances of infection from the unsterilised instruments, complications in childbearing and so on. Tell the story to people around you, through the internet, at the worship places and other public settings. You can start a blog or an anti-FGM group.

Though FGM is illegal in most countries, people still brashly engage in it because of the lack of disciplinary measures. As far back as 1985, UK declared FGM illegal but there has been none prosecuted though it is believed that about 60,000 women and girls in the UK have undergone FGM and 24,000 girls of under 15 are still at risk. 

It is believed that many parents and guardians take their girls overseas to be mutilated during holidays. 

The airport officials and embassies can help to find the culprits through enquiries and investigations. Teachers also have the duty of being on the lookout to identify girls who may be at risk and speak up for their safety or report their findings to the police. 

Organisations like Daughters of Eve in the UK and many others are providing support to girls and working with the government and another NGO s to fully finally eradicate FGM.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Broadissues.org.

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