International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day that takes place on February 6 as part of the UN’s efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation. It was first introduced in 2003.
One of the beliefs in support for this day acknowledges that culture is in “constant flux,” and with the concerns begetting FGM being so high-risk, the abolition of such practices must be prompt. This is a movement for the rights of women and their bodies, as well as the protection of their physical health- which can be tremendously affected later in life. These efforts are to benefit actions fighting violence against women and girls as a whole. Every Woman, Every Child (a global movement), reports that “Although primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, FGM is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America. FGM continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.” In the United States alone, the recent reports of how many women and young girls are affected by FGM staggeringly tripled in numbers in comparison to the previous reports in 1990. About 120 to 140 million women have been subject to FGM over the years and currently at least 3 million girls are at risk each year, in accord to data presented by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is an effort to make the world aware of FGM and to promote its eradication. The World Health Organization has said that “Though the practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM/C can end in one generation.”
Carol Bellamy, executive director of the UN’s Children’s Agency (UNICEF), noted that “Female genital mutilation and cutting is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls,” and that “it is a dangerous and irreversible procedure that negatively impacts the general health, child bearing capabilities and educational opportunities of girls and women.”
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