Education not mutilation, UN says in campaign against FGM
As part of the global effort to end female genital mutilation (FGM) by the year 2030, the United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called for education, not mutilation.
Speaking at an event marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, Ban said, “Since 2007, more than a dozen countries have enacted measures to tackle FGM. More than 950 legal cases have been prosecuted. And today, nearly all countries where it is prevalent outlaw the practice.”
He added, “Let us continue our campaign to empower these girls and so many others. Let us shift the focus away from mutilation to education. Let us make a world where FGM stands for Focus on Girls’ Minds.”
Female genital mutilation remains traditional in many African countries as well as in South Asia and the Middle East, and the World Health Organization.
The practice involves the removal of all or part of the external female genitalia.
The ancient ritual, often shrouded in secrecy and widely condemned as a serious violation of women’s rights, causes many health problems which can be fatal. Some girls bleed to death or die from infections, while others die later in life from childbirth complications.
Inna Modja, a musician and FGM survivor from Mali, tearfully told the U.N. about her experience.
“When I was a teenager and I was on my path to become a woman, for me it was a very tough time. The path was really full of hurt and suffering because I had the physical pain and I also had the psychological pain. For me, not knowing who I was becoming because I felt that I would never become a woman because I had something missing and I wasn’t worth it. It took a lot away from what I could achieve as a teenager and what I could realize as a teenager. So I lost my identity when I went through FGM. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what was my place in society. I didn’t know how strong I could be because cutting me was telling me that I’m not good enough.”
Keziah Bianca Oseko, also a FGM survivor and activist from Kenya, called for an end to the “barbaric act”.
“I went through FGM when I was eight-years-old. And that to me is a scar that I have to stand with and to talk to people about it. So it’s that that is in me. That’s passion that is in me. That’s pain that I went through. And I want to stand up and tell the world that FGM is not something that you need to talk about, but to end it, like right now. So really, that is something that really drives me and really gives me that force to stand up and talk about it. And again, and remembering that I have girls back in Kenya who are really looking forward to our action so that they cannot go through the cut is another thing that really makes me want to stand up and fight this barbaric act with all that I am.”
FGM affects an estimated 140 million girls and women and is seen by many families as a gateway to marriage and way to preserve a girl’s virginity. Uncut girls are often ostracized.