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Social Issues
United Nations Unanimously Calls For A Global Ban On Female Genital Mutilation
December 20, 2012
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The United Nations took an important step today toward eliminating one of the most barbaric practices in the world.

Female genital mutilation.

Well now, the UN General Assembly has unanimously approved a resolution calling on countries to ban female genital mutilation.

It calls the practice a form of "irreparable, irreversible abuse" and a serious threat to the psychological, sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.

The resolution, which is not legally binding, asks the 193 U.N. members to condemn the procedure, and take all necessary measures "to protect women and girls from this form of violence."

The World Health Organization estimates about 140 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation, which involves the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia.

In Africa alone, three million girls are at risk every year.

It's a practice that goes back centuries and is typically done for cultural, religious and social reasons.

It's based on the belief that circumcising girls will control their sexuality, by preventing sex before marriage and promiscuity afterwards.

It's also seen as a way to prepare a girl for womanhood and ultimately improve fertility.

However, opponents say it can cause bleeding, shock, cysts and infertility, as well as severe psychological effects similar to rape.

The practice is common in more than two dozen African countries, including Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea.

It's also carried out in parts of the Middle East, South America and Asia (notably Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan and Indonesia) and in some immigrant communities in Europe and North America.

The resolution also raised concerns that health workers are increasingly carrying out female genital mutilations in regions where they're practiced.

A number of non-governmental organizations have spent the past ten years, urging the UN to call for this ban.

One of the key ones was the Ban FGM Campaign. Here's a video from them.

Another organization that's prominent in the fight to stop violence against women was founded by Eve Ensler - best known for her play 'The Vagina Monologues.'

In 1998, Ensler started V-Day - a global movement that has raised more $80 million to protect women and create education campaigns.

That money has helped pay for 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in places such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Egypt, Iraq and Haiti.

Those safe houses provide women shelter from abuse, female genital mutilation and honour killing.

This year, along with the V-Day movement, Ensler founded One Billion Rising - a global protest campaign to end violence, and promote justice and gender equality for women.

Here's a campaign video.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation has also put together stories and videos on female genital mutilation. You can check that out by clicking here.

Related stories

Today Is The International Day Of Zero Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation

It's The Unesco International Day For Tolerance And The Human Race Could Really Use Some

Today Is The National Day Of Remembrance And Action On Violence Against Women


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