International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2015

Every girl deserves to grow up free of violence and discrimination:

“If everyone is mobilised, women, men, and young people, it is possible, in this generation, to #endFGM, a practice that currently affects some 130 million girls and women” [ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, 6 February 2015]

6 February is International Day against Female Genital Mutilation. The day has been designated by the United Nations to raise awareness amongst the general public about this traditional practice which severely violates the human rights of women and girls.  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 multiple discrimination against women and girls (on the grounds of gender, age and ethnicity). The practice also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.

FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15. The most typical age is 7 – 10 years or just before puberty, although reports suggest that it is dropping in some areas. It is practised by families often in the belief that it is beneficial for the girl or woman and is related to the social control of women’s sexual and reproductive rights. It is part of the continuum of violence against women and constitutes an obstacle to equality between women and men, a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls.

It has severe short and long-term physical and psychological consequences. As such, FGM stands in opposition to the EU principles, in particular respect for human rights, equality between women and men, and the EU’s duty to protect human dignity and the rights of the child. FGM is practised predominantly by a small group of migrants from specific African, MiddleEast and Asian countries (or parts of these countries). In the EU-countries where victims or girls and women at risk of FGM live, there is evidences of the practice occurring both during a stay in the country of origin and even sometimes in the territory of the EU.

FGM also constitutes

— a persecution qualifying for being granted refugee status in the European Union – 2004 Council Directive and Geneva Conventions

“No one may invoke cultural diversity as an excuse to infringe on human rights guaranteed by international law… nor should cultural diversity be taken to support segregation and harmful traditional practices which, in the name of culture, seek to sanctify differences that run counter to the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights.” – UN Special Rapporteurs, World Day for Cultural Diversity, 21 May 2010


Sources: [1] United Nations Website, International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 6 February


[3] End FGM – European Network

[4] Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men — Opinion on an EU initiative on female genital mutilation

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