Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ban on female genital mutilation called for by U.N.

By Greg Goodsell
December 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a major victory for women in many Third World Nations, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation. The resolution urges the 193 U.N. member states to condemn the practice, in addition to enacting legislation banning the practice.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The legislation calls for the worldwide prohibition of female genital mutilation, protecting women and girls "from this form of violence." While not legally binding, U.N. General Assembly resolutions carry considerable international clout.

"This an important moment for everyone engaged in the fight against FGM - and most particularly for all the girls and women who have been affected by this grotesque practice," José Luis Díaz, U.N. representative for the non-profit rights group Amnesty International declared.

"The U.N. resolution places FGM in a human rights framework and calls for a holistic approach, stressing the importance of empowerment of women, promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence."

FGM is usually done to reinforce traditional beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behavior. Many communities believe the process reduces a woman's libido and therefore lessens the chances of her engaging in premarital or extramarital sex. 

When the vaginal opening is closed off or narrowed through the process, the pain of opening it, and the fear that it would be found out, is considered further deterrent to "illicit" sexual intercourse.

There are no religious writings of any of the world's religions that condone the practice. Many practitioners insist that the practice has religious support. While some religious leaders promote it, there are still more throughout the most obscure reaches of the globe that consider it irrelevant to religion. Still many others condemn it and contribute to its elimination.

Amnesty International estimates that three million girls face FGM each year. The practice is still commonplace in 28 countries in Africa, as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia and in certain ethnic groups in South America. The practice also continues in many immigrant communities, including those in Europe and the United States.

The U.N. resolution could have a significant impact on halting FGM. Amy Fairbairn, director of communications for Tostan, a non-profit development organization working in Africa says that because FGC is a social norm in some countries and regions, she believes change requires more work on the grassroots level.

"The ban reaffirms an important message that the international community does not believe female genital cutting should continue," she said. "At the country level, it may help more countries to look at this practice and to look at the most effective ways of approaching it."

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)