Statement of Dr. Moez Doraid, Regional Director a.i. for the Arab States On the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020
There is no greater tragedy that can befall any society than the loss of its children. Even more so when their lives are taken through senseless, unnecessary and cruel acts. Just one week ago, we were all shocked to learn of the tragic death of 12 year-old Nada in Assiut Governorate, Egypt, while undergoing the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at a private clinic.
FGM is a grave violation of the fundamental rights of women and girls, and a serious criminal offence. The practice has been resoundingly and repeatedly condemned by religious institutions, including Al-Azhar University; Dar El-Ifta (Egypt’s central authority for issuing Islamic rulings); medical authorities, and by the United Nations. We welcome and support the denunciation of the tragic incident by the National Committee for the Eradication of FGM of Egypt. This is without prejudice of the on-going investigation and independence of the judicial process.
For the survivors of FGM, the act can and often does cause life-long physical and emotional trauma, impacting directly on their capacity to participate fully in public and private life. As highlighted in a 2018 global report by UN Women, at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries have undergone FGM. While there has been a decline in FGM in several Arab States, prevalence rates remain very high in Sudan and Egypt (86 per cent and 82 per cent respectively for women aged 20-24). Unless progress is accelerated, the rate of decline will not keep up with population growth, and the number of women and girls undergoing FGM will increase.
The persistence of discriminatory social norms and gender stereotypes constitute significant obstacles to the effective implementation of international and national frameworks to end all forms of violence against women, including FGM. While advances have been made in reducing its prevalence, such as through legal reforms and by raising awareness of the appalling dangers to girls’ health and lives, progress must be accelerated in order to achieve the elimination of this horrific practice by 2030. There are still critical gaps in data availability, community awareness and effective implementation of national legislative protections, leaving girls and women at risk. This is unacceptable.
Today, 6th of February, is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. This year we focus on the power of youth to accelerate action for zero FGM by 2030. As one of the largest demographic groups in the Arab States region, young people offer fresh ideas, solutions and leadership to multi-partner efforts to eradicate FGM. UN Women is proud to work with young feminists, activists, NGOs and youth networks as they concentrate their efforts on some of the greatest challenges facing women and girls. This must be the generation that ends FGM in our region once and for all.