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.