Female Genital Mutiliation on the decline!

photo from feministing.com/

According to Feministing.com, a UN report showed that almost 3,000 religious leaders declared that female genital mutilation (FGM) should end and almost 2,000 communities in Africa declared their abandonment of the practice in 2011.

These findings coincide with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, which was on Feb. 6.

FGM is a long standing cultural tradition practiced mostly in Africa, but can also be seen in Asia and the Middle East. FGM involves “cutting away part or all of the external genitalia,” according to the article. The practice has raised many health concerns with the international community, which has led many to see it as a human rights violation.

While I understand the historical and cultural significance of FGM, I also see it is a human rights violation, primarily for the fact that these young girls do not have a choice in the matter because they can either have the procedure or be shunned from the community. Also, I do not like the fact that is poses a danger to those involved.

However, I also frown upon Western societies imposing their views on non-western societies. In order for change to truly occur, the community itself has to want to invoke that change. It cannot be done from the outside. That is why I really like how the international community is handling this particular situation.

According to the article, UNICEF and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) came together in 2008 to create the Joint Programme for the Acceleration of the Abandonment of FGM/C.

“The strategy aims to make change in FGM/C practices by utilizing culturally sensitive, human rights-based approaches that link countries and communities together and then promotes a collective abandonment of the practice,” according to the article.

Through the program, communities discuss the effects of FGM/C and “debunks the notion that it is a religious requirement.”

According to the UN report, 18,000 community sessions were held and 3,000 religious leaders declared that it should end in 2011.

This is a major step in the right direction for those who practice FGM/C because a tradition that harms and can kill its people is not a practice worth keeping. And I am glad these communities are seeing that.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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