Womens Health Newsl. 1993 Nov;(20):10-1.
6000 girls at risk every day. Female genital mutilation, although illegal, is still widely practiced.
PIP: 6000 girls face the risk of genital mutilation daily. More than 100 million women worldwide have already undergone genital mutilation. It increases the risk of death during childbirth and of fetal death. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is forced on 1-day-to 18-year-old females (95% of all FGM cases). Most genitally mutilated females live in more than 20 countries in Africa, in some countries in the Middle East, and in a few countries in Asia. The governments do not condone FGM, however. The 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child calls on governments to abolish harmful traditional, social, and cultural practices. Migration has brought affected girls and women to Europe, Canada, the US, and Australia. About 1000 girls in these countries are at risk of genital mutilation. 10 social work departments in the UK have had to intervene in cases of suspected FGM. Another 18 departments think that it may be practiced in their communities. FGM predates Islam, and the Koran doe not refer to it; so, contrary to popular belief, FGM is not a religious requirement for Muslims. The underlying reason for FGM is the suppression and control of female sexuality. It is indeed one of the more extreme forms of female oppression. The UN Draft Convention on Violence against Women addresses FGM. Other international legal instruments are the UN Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the UN Children’s Convention. The European parliament calls on member countries to move against FGM. In 1985, the UK outlawed FGM. Minority black and marginalized women and girls are at greatest risk of FGM in the UK. All local UK authorities should have an antiracist and multicultural policy protecting girls from FGM and provide services addressing the special health needs of genitally mutilated women.
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