FGM 'frighteningly widespread', says UN secretary-general

The UN secretary general has warned that female genital mutilation (FGM) remains "frighteningly widespread" throughout the world.

According to Ban Ki-moon, some people defend the procedure on the grounds that it is a tradition in some cultures.

However, he told the Guardian that this same "weak argument" has been used to defend many inhumane practices, such as honour killings and slavery.

"Just because a harmful practice has long existed does not justify its continuation," Mr Ban commented.

He insisted that there are no religious or health reasons for performing FGM, as the procedure causes "grave harm" to women and girls.

Indeed, Mr Ban said those who have undergone FGM can go on to experience numerous health issues, including infections, incontinence and depression.

He also pointed out that victims are likely to face "deadly complications" during pregnancy and when they are giving birth.

"Mothers shouldn't be terrified of giving birth to daughters," Mr Ban added.