UNICEF today called for increased efforts to end female genital cutting, as the world marks International Day against Female Genital Mutilation.
“Some 70 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to female genital cutting,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “While some communities have made real progress in abandoning this dangerous practice, the rights, and even the lives, of too many girls continue to be threatened.”
Female genital mutilation or cutting is the partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs, undertaken for cultural or other non-medical reasons.
Although this practice is in decline, it remains prevalent in many countries – particularly in Africa and the Middle East.
Recent studies have shown that female genital cutting affects women’s reproductive health and causes severe pain. It can result in prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and even death.
A girl or woman who has been cut is at greater risk of complications when she gives birth. These complications can increase the chances of death or disability for both mother and child.
In February last year, 10 United Nations agencies expressed their commitment to the elimination of female genital cutting/mutilation, by pledging to support governments, communities, and women and girls to abandon the practice within a generation, with a major reduction in many countries by 2015, the year the Millennium Development Goals are set to be achieved.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments