Efua Dorkenoo, OBE
Advocacy Director-FGM Programme
UN COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN 56 HIGH LEVEL PANEL
FGM - FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION - RURAL WOMEN & GIRLS
Chairperson, Distinguished Speakers and Colleagues, on behalf of Equality Now, let me first thank WUNRN for inviting Equality Now to participate in this High Level Panel on Female Genital Mutilation.
Equality Now’s focus is the implementation of legal and policy measures to prevent girls from undergoing FGM.
Although FGM is prohibited by criminal law in many States, it continues to be practised in many African countries, Asia and the Middle East and amongst immigrant communities in western countries.Despite the increase in efforts to bring FGM to an end the prevalence rates remain high and is still over ninety percent in Somalia (98.7%), Egypt (95.8%), Djibouti (93.1%), Guinea (95.6%), Sierra Leone (94%) and North Sudan (90%). 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM annually in Africa.
To highlight a few challenges which are obstacles to ending FGM:
1. Increased medicalisation of FGM
to the WHO, there has been a dramatic increase in the proportion of FGM
operations carried out by trained health-care personnel. Today, it is estimated
that 94% of women in
2. Identified power groups resisting change but with key influence over FGM practising populations.
Amongst Muslim population groups the resistors to
change are powerful conservative religious leaders. They are the force behind
FGM in countries such as
3. Selling their daughters for cows!
year thousands of girls are mutilated en masse and openly in a number of FGM
practising communities e.g. in
These challenges could be tackled with sufficient political will to implement policies and enforce legislation to protect girls and women against FGM. For example, a recent WHO study that examined current practices and beliefs in ten countries in West Africa showed that in Burkina Faso, which has taken serious steps to implement its law against FGM and to protect girls from undergoing the practice, there had been a dramatic reduction in FGM prevalence from women (74%) to their daughters (25%); only 14.2% of the women surveyed in that country said they believe FGM should continue. Burkina Faso takes a comprehensive, integrated, coordinated multi-sectoral approaches often involving multiple stakeholders that include women and girls, women’s organisations, religious and community leaders, youth, men and boys, law enforcement personnel, as well as legal, health and education professionals.
Equality Now calls on all governments to honour their international human rights obligations by implementing legislation, policies and programmes to end FGM. We welcome the principled commitment shown by many against the practice – now we call on you to put those words into action and stop FGM once and for all.
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