United Nations Draft Resolution Gives Hope for Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation
Monday, October 1, 2012 3:15 PM

A group of high-profile activists at the United Nations are about to finish a draft resolution banning female genital mutilation (FGM). The draft will be presented to the U.N. General Assembly in early October. The resolution to ban FGM is being initiated by African member states of the U.N., led by Burkina Faso. Millions of girls undergo FGM every year. In some countries it is believed that FGM preserves a girl’s virginity and it is an important prerequisite for marriage. In Somalia, for example, people believe it keeps a girl chaste and increases male pleasure. While in Kenya it is tied up with the “bride price” system whereby daughters are married off very young – usually in exchange for cattle. FGM is often cited as a religious requirement, although it is not mentioned in the Koran or any other religious text.
In Africa, FGM is practiced in 28 countries and is also found in the Middle East and Asia. Seventeen African countries have criminalized FGM, but advocates have found the laws are often not enforced. In Senegal the government has launched a National Action Plan to eradicate FGM by 2015. And in Somalia – where almost all girls undergo FGM – the practice was banned under its new constitution.
Activists acknowledge that even with a U.N. resolution banning FGM, it could take decades to eradicate the practice. However it is expected that this resolution will help “put governments up against the wall.” “I’m not saying it’s the miracle solution. I’m simply saying that at the end we will have a legal tool clearly saying what is right and what is wrong,” according to Emma Bonino, vice president of the Italian Senate and founder of rights group No Peace Without Justice . Activists believe The Resolution will create pressure to both enforce existing laws and write new laws. It is getting additional support as a result of being initiated by African activists.
Compiled from: Batha, Emma, “United Nations ban resolution to stop global FGM builds steam” Inter Press Service (published online Sep 25, 2012).