Observing International Day of Zero Tolerance

Today, February 6th is International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation (FGM).  The UN first officially commemorated the International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation on February 6, 2003. It continues to fight against FGM through a range of activities in addition to the observance.  In an effort to make the world aware of female genital mutilation and to promote an end to it, in December of 2012, the United Nations General Assembly actually adopted a special resolution to observe the day.  This is the day that the world tells the perpetrators of FGM that there is no tolerance for the practice of it.  Since then, the United Nations requested that the day be used to enhance awareness-raising campaigns, and to take concrete action against the practice of female genital mutilation.

In 2015, FGM was included in the Sustainable Development Goals under Target 5.3, which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices.  Examples of harmful practices beside FGM are Son Preference, (fathers aborting or killing female babies) Forced and Early Marriages, Bride Kidnapping, Honor Crimes, Stoning or Flogging of Women, Forced Pregnancy, Breast Ironing, Witch Burning and Beheading of women and girls.

More commonly known as FGM, female genital mutilation is the intentional removal of either all or part of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. External genitals include the clitoris, labia, pubis, urethral and vaginal openings.  This practice is an abuse of human rights and causes serious health complications, including fatal bleeding.  FGM is also considered child abuse.

Various activities and events are usually held on February 6th each year to promote the United Nation’s campaign to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of FGM.  However this year, several international organizations plan to observe the day through social media.  By taking the observation of this day to the social media waves, people around the world will be given an opportunity to speak out and give their views on FGM.

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), more than 500,000 women and girls residing in the U.S. are either at risk of FGM or have already experienced it.  FGM is a heinous deeply rooted traditional practice of more than five centuries, performed in parts of Africa, Asia, Middle East, Australia, South America, Europe and North America, including the United States.  It originated in Egypt more than five centuries ago, during the pharaoh era, and later found its way to Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world.

More than 140 million women have been subjected to FGM and more than 3 million girls are at risk each year in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  The practice can cause short-term and long-term health complications, including chronic pain, infections, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety and depression, birth complications, infertility and, in the worst cases, death.  FGM is internationally recognized as an extreme violation of the rights of women and girls.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) calls out to the world “to promote the abandonment of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.”

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation joins other anti-FGM organizations, advocates and activists around the world in sending the message that we will not tolerate the practice of FGM.  We will continue to demonstrate Zero Tolerance for this health hazardous practice on little girls.  This year, let’s observe this day with a dedication to all of the little girls past and present who were violated, and to all the women who have lived with the consequences of FGM.  We also dedicate today to the many girls and women who lost their lives as the result of FGM.

If you are reading this we ask you to have a private moment of silence for the women and girls whose lives were taken at the blades of their excisors for the past five thousand plus years.  We applaud all of the women who have survived the years of post-FGM, and the courage many of them exhibit by speaking out against what they endured many years before.

Please remember to wear an item of purple today February 6th to make your voice heard that you will not tolerate female genital mutilation.  Fly a purple flag on your car; wear a purple bow or flower in your hair or wear a purple jacket or t-shirt.  Write a tribute on your social media page to the women and girls whom we have lost to FGM for the past five plus centuries.  Let the world know that you care, and you want this atrocious and senseless practice to stop.

Mariam Bojang, Severina Lemachokoti and FA Cole

   Comments and questions to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call (703) 818-3787