The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is celebrated on February 6th. The Day designated by UN aims to raise awareness and to fight this practice. Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to any procedure which alterates or damages femal genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGMs are acknowledged on an international level as a violation of human rights for women and girls. Not only this practice is a breach of women’s right to health, but also violates the right not to be tortured and may cause death.
FGM in numbers
FGMs are mostly practiced in Africa and Middle East, but are also common in some countries in Asia and Latin America. Moreover the practice is spread among immigrant populations living in western Europe, North America and Australia.
- At least 200 million of women and girls have undergone FGMs.
- In 2020 alone, there are 4.1 million girls around the world are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation.
- Following actual trends, by 2030 15 millions of girls aged between 15 and 19 will undergo FGM.
- 44 millions of girls aged 14 and less have undergone FGMs.
- Young people aged 15 to 19 in countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent are less supportive of continuing the practice than are adults aged 45 to 49.
- In many countries where female genital mutilation is prevlant, young girls have a dramatically increased chance of growing up without the risk of undergoing this harmful practice compared to their mothers and grandmothers.
Unleashing Youth Power
To eradicate FGMs raising awareness among global population is fundamental, especially new generations. For this reaseon this year’s Day theme is “Unleashing Youth Power: One decade of accelerating actions for zero female genital mutilation.” Despite this practice has been circulating for more than 1000 years, it is reasonable to think that FGMs may be put to an end by 2030.
Risper e Gladys
Key concepts to fight FGMs are human rights, gender equality, sexual education and attention to girls and women’s needs. Joint efforts are necessary to involve communities in this process. Since last year World Friends and CrescereInsieme have been promoting Il Femminile di Uguale project. The project’s aim is to raise awareness among the population on Sustainable Development Goals, especially number 5, gender equality.
The story of the sisters Risper and Gladys offers a raw outlook on the drama of FGM. In rural areas of maasai highlands FGM is percieved as a “rite of passage”. Young Risper has undergone this practice at age 10 to wed afterwards. Her younger sister Gladys was luckier thanks to the intervention of the village chief, able to convince her father to let her daughter study. School and education have been an escape route from FGM for Gladys. However many girls today do not share such destiny.
Gladys: “I want to be a better person, I want to help the village and the girls of my age. Because I see the differences: when I was little all my brothers went to school, while we stayed at home. That happens to a lot of girls who don’t go to school.”