February 6 – International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

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What :International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
When : February 06,2016

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is observed on February 6 every year to make the world aware of female genital mutilation (also called FGM) and to promote its eradication

At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, with half of them living in Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia.

FGM comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total removal or the external female genitalia, or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The practice reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls.

Why is FGM carried out?

FGM has no health benefits, causing only harm and distress to victims. The procedure takes place for a variety of cultural, social and religious beliefs, which include family honour and ensuring a girl is marriageable. Other reasons are: social acceptance, preservation of virginity, chastity, custom and hygiene. In some cases, it is wrongly believed FGM will enhance fertility and make childbirth safer.

What do the procedures entail?

There are four major types of FGM as identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO). These are:

1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris.

2. Excision: removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips).

3. Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia.

4. Other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Who carries out the procedure?

In many communities where FGM is prevalent, there is a traditional circumciser. However, more than 18 per cent of all FGM is performed by health care providers, and the trend towards medicalisation is increasing.

What are the health risks?

Immediate dangers include shock, severe pain, haemorrhage, tetanus, infection, urine retention, open sores and damage to other organs such as the anus, urethra and the bladder.There is a high risk of infection or blood poisoning from unsterilised instruments, as well as HIV transmission.

Long-term consequences can include: recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths and the need for surgeries later in life.

Key Facts:

  • Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.
  • If current trends continue, 15 million additional girls between ages 15 and 19 be subjected to it by 2030.
  • Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice.
  • Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 per cent, Guinea 97 per cent and Djibouti 93 per cent.
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.
  • FGM cause severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.