By: Maggie McMorrow
Last week marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (February 6.) In December of 2012 the UN gathered and “adopted Resolution A/RES/67/146 in which it “Calls upon States, the United Nations system, civil society and all stakeholders to continue to observe 6 February as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and to use the day to enhance awareness raising campaigns and to take concrete actions against female genital mutilations” FGM is any type of procedure that alters the female genitalia for nonmedical reason. Over 140 million girls have undergone FGM and it is a pervasive practice in not only Africa but in all other parts of the world. The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Mutilation 2015 seeks to engage medical personnel to help end FGM and curve the practice, which is reflected in this years theme, “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation”.
One country that is taking this literally is Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso 3 out of 4 girls have had some form of FGM. The first lady of Burkina Faso, Chantal Compaore has been a vital leader in seeking to end the practice in the country for the past 20 years. Peer education groups led through UNICEF and UNFPA are helping to educate the girls there on the practice of FGM and the dangers of it. As a result of this, many parents in Burkina Faso have decided to no longer practice FGM. Through the community support groups, new laws, and peer education, Burkina Faso has been able to decrease the amount of girls undergoing these procedures by 31%. As of now, 2,188 community, political, and religious leaders have committed to abandon the practice of FGM. Burkina Faso has also taken the movement to social media starting online campaigns and broadcasting radio specials in order to educate the people listening. There has also been a clinic set up called the Suka Clinic that helps girls with the after effects of FGM and provides reconstructive surgery that costs only $15.
The Guardian has started a global media campaign called “End FGM” in which they hope to help educate the world on the practice of FGM. This may seem like a complex issue, but there are many ways that you can help to end FGM. First we need to put pressure on the government to not only study how many girls in the US are in danger of FGM but also to send aid to the 50 or so other countries around the world in which it is a common practice.
You can sign this petition to commission a prevalance report of FGM in the US:
And you can also donate to any of these organizations: Safe Hands for Girls, Sanctuary for Families, or Equality Now, all of which help establish medical personnel, peer education, and community building to help end FGM.