Press Release by HIVOS and WADI
The Hague, Suleimania 5 February, The 6th of February was introduced by the United Nations as The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Since then public awareness worldwide has grown. In a time when women’s rights and violence against women are discussed more than ever before, especially in the Middle East, Hivos and WADI – frontrunners in the battle against FGM – call upon the Secretary General and the General Assembly of the United Nations to step up efforts to end this practice.
Currently one hundred and forty million girls and women are estimated to have undergone an FGM procedure. This is a very large and deplorable number, albeit an estimation mainly focusing on Africa. Considering growing evidence which proves that FGM is not only an ‘African problem’ but also widespread in various parts of Asia including the Middle East, a much higher number may be closer to the truth.
Time to act NOW
On the international level the passing of a resolution calling for a ban on FGM by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012 was a milestone. Although the resolution is not legally binding, it will enhance the moral and political incentive for governments to act on FGM. And it will encourage activists worldwide to speak out against a fatal ‘tradition’.
It is time to act now. And to ask a question: In 2003 the United Nations proclaimed the imperative of eliminating female genital mutilation. However, so far no action has been taken by the UN bodies to stop FGM in the Middle East. Why, for instance, have they not become active in Iraq, yet? What is done in Yemen where FGM levels in some regions are known to reach 50 percent?