TEHRAN, 5 February 2014 (UNIC)—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 6 February 2014, while announcing that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is most prevalent and data exist, warned that some 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030.
The full text of his message reads:
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hold high the banner of empowering women and girls, promoting their health and defending their rights. The International Day of Zero-Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is an opportunity to confront this persistent problem – and to find hope in initiatives proving that it can end.
We should strive to preserve the best in any culture, and leave harm behind.
There is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman. Although some would argue that this is a ‘tradition,’ we must recall that slavery, socalled honour killings and other inhumane practices have been defended with the same weak argument. Just because a harmful practice has long existed does not justify its continuation. All ‘traditions’ that demean, dehumanize and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended.
FGM causes grave harm to individuals. The immediate and long-term health consequences include constant pain, infections, incontinence and sometimes deadly complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
The practice is declining in almost all countries but it is still frighteningly widespread. Although firm statistics are difficult to obtain, it is estimated that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where FGM is most prevalent and data exist. If current trends continue, some 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030. Asia, Europe, North America and other regions are not spared and must be equally vigilant in addressing the problem.
Fortunately there are positive signs of progress in our global push to end this harmful practice.
Girls themselves instinctively understand the dangers of being cut, and many mothers who have seen or experienced the trauma want to shield their daughters from suffering. It is encouraging that an increasing number of communities are coming together and agreeing publically to end FGM and ensure a better life for their girls.