Eliminating female genital mutilation by 2030

By Nafissatou J. Diop

A poem by the Somali writer Dahabo Ali Muse expresses the pain caused by female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice endured by more than 140 million girls and women in the world: ‘It is what my grandmother called the three feminine sorrows. She said the day of circumcision; the wedding night and the birth of a baby are the triple feminine sorrows.’ (See full poem in page 19) FGM, the first of the three feminine sorrows, refers to all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is life-threatening both during the procedure and throughout the course of a girl’s life. It is also a reproductive rights violation, as it violates the right to health and bodily integrity and is a form of violence against women and girls

. Creating a movement to eliminate FGM There is a need to reach out to the girls and women whose rights are violated by FGM, while engaging governments and other parties that have the responsibility to eliminate it. It is important, in particular, to sensitize political leaders on FGM, to cultivate networks of supporters and activists and to disseminate information about local, regional and global developments.

. Translating Legislation into Action States must ensure adequate national provisions to stop FGM, including through criminalization, appropriate enforcement and prosecution. Countries are reporting varying degrees of law enforcement, and many stakeholders say the existence of anti-FGM laws provides them with leverage and legitimization for their advocacy work. Similarly, the process of informing the population about a new law offers opportunities to publicly discuss FGM, thereby raising awareness. Media coverage of prosecutions and court public hearings can also further inform people about legislation

Engaging health workers in the elimination of FGM Health workers, fully aware of the considerable consequences of FGM on sexual and reproductive health, are increasingly standing up against the practice. Their advanced skills in the prevention and provision of care to girls

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