In a milestone move to address violence against women, the UN General Assembly has passed a unanimous resolution banning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  The decision is a small but significant step towards ending FGM affecting about 100-140 million women and girls worldwide.  Each year it is estimated an additional three million girls risk being subjected to the practice globally.

A grotesque procedure still inflicted on far too many new-Canadians from parts of the world where it is common, PIC is urging the government to be increasingly vigilant and pro-active in attempting to stamp out FGM in this country.   While criminalization is vital, the greater challenge is to promote the cultural and attitudinal changes that permit FGM to continue, and to a great extent, particularly in Africa.  These changes require key influencers and supporting community-based activities aimed at altering social norms, as well as practical actions to bring perpetrators to justice.

The UN resolution urges countries to condemn all harmful practices affecting women and girls, but with with particular emphasis on FGM, and to take all necessary measures, including enforcing legislation, awareness-raising and allocating sufficient resources to protect women and girls from this form of violence.  It calls for special attention to protect and support women and girls who have been subjected to the procedure, and those at risk, including refugee women and women migrants.  UN Women will continue to take a lead in seeking to bring this about.

U.N. seeks a global ban on female circumcision


The U.N. General Assembly has unanimously approved a resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women’s sexuality and enhances fertility and is often linked to religious and cultural practices, although Muslim and Christian leaders have spoken out against it.

While not legally binding, General Assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.  The U.N. said in 2010 that about 70 million girls and women had undergone the procedure, and the WHO says about 6,000 girls were circumcised every day.  The resolution, cosponsored by over 100 countries and adopted by consensus, calls the practice harmful and a serious threat to the psychological, sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.

It calls on the U.N.’s 193 member states to condemn the practice and launch education campaigns to eliminate it. It also urges all countries to enact and enforce legislation to prohibit the practice and to end impunity for violators.  According to Amnesty International, female genital mutilation is commonplace in 28 countries in Africa as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia and among certain ethnic groups in South America, but it is also a worldwide concern in that it is also widely practiced by immigrants in diaspora communities.