Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.
The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
Although primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, FGM is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America. FGM continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Though the practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM can end in one generation. UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. The programme currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.
On 20 December 2012, the UN General Assembly 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”.
In December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted without a vote Resolution A/RES/69/150 “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations”, calling upon member States to develop, support and implement comprehensive and integrated strategies for the prevention of FGM including training of medical personnel, social workers and community and religious leaders to ensure they provide competent, supportive services and care to women and girls who are at risk of or who have undergone FGM. The resolution also acknowledges that intensifying efforts for the elimination of FGM is needed, and in this regard, the importance of giving the issue due consideration in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.