World takes a stand against genital mutilation

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The push for a ban on female circumcision in Africa has been taken to the United Nations, as 27 African countries and International activists joined envoys from the United Nations and African Union in Senegal to “promote the adoption of a resolution that explicitly bans female genital mutilation. 19 African countries have banned the practice.

According to the World Health Organization, the cutting or removal of young girls’ and women’s clitoris and/or labia often carried out for deep-seated religious or cultural reasons, leads to infection, urinary tract problems, mental trauma, sterility or complications during childbirth, and in some cases fatal haemorrhaging.

“Now is the time to move forwards with a specific resolution at the United Nations that can give a new boost, a new hope to activists, governments and lawmakers. There is no miracle solution, only a complex strategy that needs to be implemented,” Italian Senate deputy leader and campaigner Emma Bonino told reporters in Senegal.

Senegal’s parliament speaker Mamadou Seck said education and persuasion, to convince but not coerce, was the key to fighting genital mutilation in Africa.

A nationwide campaign in Senegal between 2000 and 2005 managed to reduce the number of mutilations by over 70 percent, and a second campaign would be held that hopes to eradicate the practice completely by 2015.

An estimated 120 to 140 million women in 28 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East are affected by this practice. UN population fund envoy, Rose Gkuba, told the conference that over 91 million girls aged nine and under, have undergone the practice, with three million operated on each year in Africa.

African Union’s envoy Yetunda Teriba said genital mutilation was not just an African problem, and the West had a role to play in combating genital mutilations.

“Migrants have exported the practice. Although most of the victims are in Africa, the problem is growing in Europe among migrant and refugee communities,” Teriba was quoted as saying.

Activists around the world will continue to promote the adoption of a resolution that overtly bans female genital mutilation as a practice that is contrary to human rights.

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