INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE
Every year, February 6th marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The day aims to promote the eradication of female genital mutilation.
Female circumcision is a disturbing practice. Sadly, however, the removal of some or all of the external female genitalia is still all too common. According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million women and girls that are alive today have undergone genital mutilation. An estimated 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing genital mutilation each year. The mutilation often happens before a girl reaches the age of 15.
Female genital mutilation is known to occur in 30 countries. Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are where most FGM practices take place. Many cultures defend FGM, calling it a rite of passage for women. Some women even choose to go through with FGM. They also force their daughters to undergo the procedure. They have been led to believe they will receive social acceptance. Women have also been told that FGM will improve hygiene and enhance male sexual pleasure.
Other Reasons to End the Practice
However, besides causing immense pain, female genital mutilation is harmful in these ways:
- Excessive bleeding
- Urinary, menstrual, sexual, and vaginal problems
- Increased risk of childbirth complications
- Shock and even death
The practice also causes psychological issues, too. Some of these issues include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Even though this practice is the norm for many cultures, it is a gross violation of human rights. Because of this, the United Nations aims to eradicate all practices of female genital mutilation by 2030.
In areas with community-led interventions, the prevalence of the practice is down to 31%. To end FGM, the focus must be on human rights, gender equality, and sexual education. Attention must also be given to the women and girls who suffer from the consequences of FGM. Many countries, including the United States, have passed federal laws banning FGM.
HOW TO OBSERVE
On this day, the United Nations Population Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) encourages survivors of female genital mutilation to share their stories. The UN headquarters also holds educational seminars, discussions, and exhibits. Even though it is a difficult subject, it’s important to get involved so that women can be protected from this horrific practice.
Use #EndFGM on social media to spread awareness and show your support for women and girls around the world.
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly declared February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.