UNITED NATIONS._ Amid an international panorama marked by inequalities and gender violence, 130 million women face an additional horror: genital mutilation.
The international community considers the practice an extreme form of discrimination against women, with the United Nations estimating that by 2030 another 86 million women and girls will be victims of female circumcision, mainly in 29 African and Middle Eastern countries but also in North America, Western Europe, Latin America and Oceania.
For some people this practice is associated with culture, religion or aesthetics, a stance categorically rejected by the UN. In December 2012 the United Nations declared February 6 International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, a day for reflection and debate.
Any procedures implying damage to female sexual organs for reasons other than medical ones must be regarded as a human rights violation, the organization warns.
In a message on the third anniversary of the date, UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon called for a global effort to stop female genital mutilation practices.
“If we all mobilize it will be possible to put an end, in this generation, to a problem currently affecting 130 million girls and women in the 29 countries where statistics are available,” he noted.
The Prensa Latina news agency has talked with victims, activists and officials involved in the campaign advocating the discontinuation of mutilations.
YOUTH COULD BE THE ANSWER
Our hope is that young people will put an end to female mutilation practices in the world, said Jaha Dukureh, a victim and activist against that procedure.
To make that possible, she added, it is necessary to educate young people and men in particular in order to raise awareness.
“We need to have them ask parliaments to ban mutilation, mobilize societies, and get to the most remote communities,” said the young Gambian-born activist who now lives in New York and who underwent the practice in her early years.
“It was not until I was 15 years old that I became aware of the consequences of what they did to me, and the same thing happens to many (girls),” she said.
For Dukureh, mutilation must be left in the past, even if it is a matter of culture or religion.
This problem is not only seen in developing countries, she clarified.
In the United States nearly half a million women are at risk of genital mutilation; a country, given its plentiful resources, that could do a lot more to prevent and stop it, Dukureh stressed.
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
Meanwhile, Somali nurse Edna Adan Ismail said positive results will only be attained by an integrated response to a practice maintained for centuries.
“Laws are not enough, because there are countries where this procedure prevails and you cannot chase or punish everyone, so the idea is to raise public awareness of the problem, educate and inform,” said the professional, a forty year veteran of the fight against mutilation.
According to the U.N. complications related to such mutilations range from urinary and menstrual to obstetric disorders including hemorrhage, infections and death, as well as psychological problems.
CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY
The UN Population Fund and the UN Children’s Fund have implemented a campaign against this phenomenon; yet, its scope is limited as it has only reached 17 countries.
“The lack of resources prevents the program from further increasing its scope; we must double our efforts to gain access to greater funds,” the coordinator of the initiative, Nafissatou Diop, said.
The initiative, she highlighted, aims to raise people’s awareness –including healthcare workers– as it is they who perform the mutilation in many of the cases.
According to the official, in some countries the mutilation of one in every five affected women is performed by medical staff, while in others the rate could be three out of four.Share on FB Share on TT