News / Health

    UN Fights to End Female Circumcision by 2030

    FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2014 photo, relatives of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died undergoing the procedure of female genital mutilation walk in front of her home in Dierb Biqtaris village, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Cairo, Egypt.
    FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2014 photo, relatives of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died undergoing the procedure of female genital mutilation walk in front of her home in Dierb Biqtaris village, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Cairo, Egypt.
    Margaret Besheer

    The United Nations warned Monday that millions of girls remain at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

    The practice, which involves removing all or part of a girl’s external genitalia, has no health benefit and can cause severe bleeding, infection, pain, and later, complications in childbirth. It is often performed in unsanitary conditions with unsterilized instruments.

    Some girls die from the procedure.

    Colombian lawyer and anti-FGM activist Patricia Tobón lost three aunts to the practice. “When I was nine years old, my mother told me that three of her sisters had died because their grandmother practiced FGM on them.  But her mother rescued her and her other sister from it.”

    Tobón is a member of the indigenous Emberá people, the only ethnic group in Latin America known to practice female circumcision.

    The tradition is more widely practiced in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The U.N. Population Fund, which works to educate people about FGM’s dangers, estimates that more than 125 million girls alive today have been subjected to circumcision in 29 countries in the Middle East and Africa.

    The practice is often considered a “rite of passage” for young girls as they enter puberty. It is associated with the ideals of feminine purity and modesty. Some cultures see it as a means to control a girl’s virginity or fidelity in marriage.

    Survivors

    Malian singer and activist Inna Modja, 31, underwent FGM when she was four years old.

    “I had the physical pain and I also had the psychological pain,” an emotional Modja said. “I felt I would never become a woman because I had something missing.” She said she lost her identity when she went through FGM. “Cutting me was telling me I’m not good enough. What was I?”

    She later had reconstructive surgery which she said helped her to heal “because I was doing something to get back what was taken from me.”

    Keziah Bianca Oseka of Kenya was eight years old when she underwent female circumcision.

    “I want to stand up and fight this barbaric act with all that I am,” she told the U.N. gathering.

    Outlawing FGM

    “Since 2007, more than a dozen countries have enacted measures to tackle FGM,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a special event Monday aimed at eliminating the practice by 2030.

    “More than 950 legal cases have been prosecuted. And today, nearly all countries where it is prevalent outlaw the practice. We are working to extend that legal protection everywhere,” he added.

    But several countries where FGM is widely practiced have not outlawed it, including Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq. In any case, outlawing FGM also does not guarantee that the law is enforced.

    The practice has also migrated to Western countries with immigrants. In most European countries, FGM is prosecutable under general criminal laws. In the United States, it is illegal to transport girls to undergo the procedure.

    Changing Mindsets

    Indonesia, a country of 250 million people, has practiced FGM for generations. The government banned healthcare professionals from performing it in 2006. Some religious groups opposed the move.

    “Despite this ban, female circumcision conducted by non-medical practitioners continued to occur throughout Indonesia,” Minister of Women’s Empowerment Dr. Yohana Yembise said Monday. “This put women in a more vulnerable situation than ever,” she added.

    In 2010, she said the government revoked the regulation and a new directive has since taken its place, which again prohibits medical professionals from performing FGM.

    “We have a lot of homework to do,” Minister Yembise acknowledged. She said eliminating FGM would require cooperation between government and community leaders, civil society and international organizations.

    U.N. chief Ban said that more doctors, nurses and midwives have received training about FGM. Many religious leaders are also speaking out against it. “Let us shift the focus away from mutilation to education,” Ban said. “Let us make a world where FGM stands for Focus on Girls’ Minds.”

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ana
    February 12, 2016 9:49 PM
    Genital mutilation is defined as any type of cutting or removal of all or some of the genital organs. Circumcision of minors, male or female is morally wrong and it should be banned for both genders. Medical necessity with anesthesia should be the only exception with a process through different doctors who suggest it. We need equal rights, both genders are suffering!

    by: Juan from: USA
    February 09, 2016 9:00 AM
    Why was it ok to mutilate and torture me when I was born? I did not consent.

    by: marian from: ireland
    February 09, 2016 3:55 AM
    Why nobody talks about male genital mutilation, why separate talks, boys died from this stupid archaic custom forced upon them not just girls. At least FGM is made illegal just about everywhere but MGM is not in even illegal. Both FGM and MGM are done for same reasons in most cases, boys don't come with defects that need correction same with the girls.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora