The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is a UN-sponsored global event to fight against the customary practice of non-medical genital altering or circumcision of females.
The United Nations General Assembly included Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in a resolution – “The Declaration of elimination of Violence against women” in 1993. It was only in 2003 that the UNICEF (United Nation’s Children Emergency Fund) started observing February 6th as the ‘International Day Of Zero Tolerance To Female Genital Mutilation’.
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation 2020
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation 2020 will be celebrated on 06th February, Thursday.
People across the globe reiterated the pledge of eradicating this age-old practice in most parts of the world. Various women NGOs around the world urged the government to completely ban this practice. Ghana and other South African countries came in support to end this barbaric act as it is against the human rights of women.
A joint statement was given by the European Commission and UN on the occasion and it was said in the statement that FGM is against the human rights and physical integrity of women and should be completed abolished from the world. Not only does it give a mental shock to the girls but it might also lead to many serious diseases. A global spotlight initiative was also launched on occasion by the European Union and the United Nations to eradicate the harmful practices against women across the globe.
Global world leaders also condemn the female genital mutilation and urged people and the governments to take strict action against this evil practice so that this age-old practice against women could be completely eradicated from the world.
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or complete removal of external female genital organs, using non-medical tools and under unhygienic conditions. The practice is prevalent in certain ethnic groups across the world and is believed to preserve the woman’s piousness, sanctity, and beauty. The methods of circumcision; however, depend on different ethnic groups and are rooted in their religious beliefs.
This barbaric custom, however, is deeply rooted in gender inequality and is a serious violation of human rights and the dignity of a woman; restricting her freedom and her right to life – in cases leading to death.
Why it Should be Celebrated?
The practice of Female Genital Mutilation is deeply rooted in gender inequality. It is not only a serious human rights violation but also a cruel and inhuman treatment, violating a woman’s or girl’s dignity and her physical integrity.
Conducting circumcision in unhygienic conditions and at the hands of a self-proclaimed circumciser causes excruciating pain to the victim along with serious health complications. The activity also sometimes results in heavy bleeding resulting in death.
Apart from the health complications, circumcision results in the girl/woman suffering from mental stress and depression.
All this is done just to blindly follow a mindless ritual, which neither the religion nor the law permits. Moreover, to achieve Goal number 5 – Gender Equality; in the United Nations goals for Sustainable Development by 2030, it is imperative to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation.
Gender equality will remain a distant dream if the Female Genital Mutilation persists. That is why we all must resolve to observe the day to the further cause and to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation.
Who Is At Risk?
Female Genital Mutilation is practiced in many African, Asian and Middle East Countries. As per a global estimate, around 200 million girls and women living today have faced some form of the FGM. The figures amount mainly to 30 countries – Indonesia, Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan, and 27 African countries. In Somalia 98% of females in the age group of 15 to 49 have been circumcised; Guinea and Djibouti are not far behind at 97% and 93% respectively.
Usually, a young girl’s reaching their adolescent is at the risk of FGM, as they are least resistible and succumbed to this customary ritual.
The Policy of Zero Tolerance
Though the United Nations is funding the fight against Female Genital Mutilation since 1993; the policy of zero tolerance to it was only adopted in 2003. The official declaration on the policy of ‘Zero Tolerance to FGM’ was made by the spokesperson for the campaign against female genital mutilation and the First Lady of Nigeria – Stella Obasanjo. Thus, the UN sub-commission of Human Rights adopted it as an international awareness day.
Observance of the “International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation”
The observance of International Day Of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation holds much significance in the United Nations’ goal of sustainable development by 2030. Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation is a prime target under goal number 5 – Gender Equality. The day is jointly spearheaded by UNICEF (United Nations International Children Emergency Fund) and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities). The day involves awareness campaigns, talks, and conferences in order to raise awareness about the harms of female genital mutilation and the fact that the practice is a serious human rights violation.
The activities are coordinated by many governments as well as non-government agencies and involve mobilizing youths to be a part of the campaign.
Annual Budgetary Allocations
Till 1993 the UNICEF was only allocating a fund of 100000 USD/year for the fight against Female Genital Mutilation, which was insufficient considering over 100 Million victims at that time. Due to arduous campaigns by social activists, lawyers and members from the public, UNICEF raised the annual budget to 90 Million dollars, for the fight against FGM.
The response around the World
Many efforts have been made to fight Female Genital Mutilation since 1993. The efforts have led to revised policies and stricter laws banning FGM; focusing on the natives as well as the migrant population.
There are strict laws banning the practice of FGM in many countries. The United States of America has banned the practice of FGM on its soil as well as illegalized the transport of a girl, outside America for the purpose of genital mutilation.
Though, no religion mandates the practice of Female Genital Mutilation; the laws banning FGM are sometimes opposed by certain religious or ethnic groups in the affected countries. Despite the opposition, many governments have passed resolutions banning Female Genital Mutilation.
Today, the men and women from the communities which had been inflicted by the FGM, have now resolved to eliminate it.
India’s Stand Against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)
FGM in India is practiced by the Bohra community (Muslim Shia sect) and is called as Khatna or Khafz. The community has approximately one Million members in India. It is performed by the complete or partial removal of the girl’s clitoral hood when she reaches the age of 7 years.
Many social activists and members from the public have raised their voices against the inhuman practice of Khafz from time to time.
A public campaign – “We speak Out” has been persuading the government for banning the practice; however, the Ministry of Women And Child Development in 2017 stated that there is no evidence to support the existence of FGM in India.
Notices have also been issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to the states where they practice is presumed to be prevalent in the Shia Muslim community – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kerala, and Telangana; stating that circumcision is already a crime under existing laws.
Some more Suggestions to Celebrate the Day in Effective Way
1) Raise Public Awareness
Programs should be organized to connect to the masses and raising public awareness regarding the issue. A strong message should be sent that FGM is a serious human rights violation and amounts to cutting a woman’s dignity and freedom.
2) Fund Collection Campaigns
Various fund collection campaigns should be organized to collect funds for the welfare of victims and to support the campaign itself. The fund thus collected can be spent on the education and health of victims.
3) Involving Religious Gurus (Saints)
The practice of FGM is deeply rooted in orthodox religious beliefs and customs; despite the fact that no religion mandates or even allows such an insensible ritual under any circumstances. Therefore, garnering the support of religious gurus to fight against FGM is bound to have positive effects on communities practicing Female Genital Mutilation.
4) Educate the Mothers/Grand Mothers and Mothers to Be
Every woman should be educated about the ill effects of practicing Genital Mutilation on her daughter or granddaughter. They should also be educated about their rights and laws on Female Genital Mutilation in their respective countries.
5) Hear The Silence
Female Genital Mutilation is practiced silently in many countries, within the houses by a circumcision under non-medical conditions. Gathering information about such events, in order to stop them from happening; could be a tough task. Coordinate with the government and non-government agencies and independent volunteers to keep a check on such illegal practices.
Themes of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
- Global Theme 2018 – “End of FGM is Political Stance”.
- Kenya National Theme 2017 – “Working Together to End FGM in Kenya by 2030.”
- Global Theme 2016 – “Building a solid and interactive bridge between Africa and the world to accelerate ending FGM by 2030.”
- Global Theme 2015 – “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.”
- Global Theme 2014 – “Preserve the best in culture and leave harm behind.”