International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, 2014
The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - held each 6 February - encourages global awareness of FGM (also called ‘cutting’) and promotes its eradication.
The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) views FGM of any type as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, and works actively with other global organisations to help to eliminate it.
FGM includes procedures performed on the female external genital organs for nonmedical reasons. It is a harmful traditional practice which is performed for a variety of cultural reasons, and carries significant physical, sexual and psychological consequences.
The world has long united in its response to FGM. The United Nations released a 2008 statement - ‘Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation’ - and called for its eradication within a generation. OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM and WHO supported this announcement, as did numerous NGOs and professional health and rights associations.
During the 61st World Health Assembly (2008), FGM was denounced as a violation of human rights and a barrier in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and called on member states to accelerate actions towards its elimination.
Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, FIGO President, said:
‘FIGO’s work on condemning FGM continues to be robust. Building on our 1994 Montreal General Assembly Resolution on FGM, we continue to encourage FIGO societies - in countries where the practice is prevalent - to urge their national governments to sign up to international human rights agreements condemning the practice and to support the work of national authorities, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations.
‘The FIGO Committee for the Ethical Aspects of Human Reproduction and Women’s Health has two guidelines opposing FGM, the most recent concerning medicalisation [London, 2006], and in 2010, FIGO joined UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO, ICN, MWIA,WCPA and WMA in launching a “Global strategy to stop healthcare providers from performing FGM”.’
Medicalisation of FGM - encouraged by some healthcare professionals - is not an acceptable practice, and all efforts should be made to prevent this by the presence of ethical guidelines and regulatory rules.
In order for there to be successful mobilisation against FGM, there must be a strengthening of understanding and knowledge by healthcare providers; robust monitoring, evaluation and accountability; and a supporting legislative and regulatory framework.
Joint efforts must be undertaken by all concerned parties - eg civil society groups, women’s groups, and Government policy makers etc.
FIGO’s film on the issue, ‘The Cutting Tradition: insights into female genital mutilation’, in collaboration with filmmaker Nancy Durrell McKenna of SafeHands for Mothers, and award-winning actress Meryl Streep as narrator, aims to educate health providers worldwide on the issues surrounding this highly controversial subject.