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International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, 6 February

FGM is an offence and human right violation deeply rooted in traditions

Female genital mutilation is a traditional crime, and we are reminded of it on the 6th of February of each year, "International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation". The strong language used by international human rights literature to combat this abhorrent custom "mutilation", rather than circumcision is to be noted, but also the expression "zero tolerance" is to reject any reason for tolerance under the pretext of respect for customs and traditions. The title of the occasion itself was a strong cry against this heinous practice.

The definition of this harmful process, has been defined as encompassing all practices involving the partial or complete removal of the female's external genital organs, as well as any unnecessary harm to those organs.

FGM is reported to be practised in almost 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the victims amount to approximately 125 million, often by traditional practitioners or excisers. But there are specialized doctors who also do it, and statistics say that more than 18% of female genital mutilation is carried out by health-care providers from doctors and others.

This bad practice involves a package of violations of the victim's rights, which is a violation of the rights of the child since the victims are girls who are subjected to such mutilation and are under 15 years of age, it also constitutes a violation of the right to physical and mental health and a violation of the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment. Female genital mutilation may also amount to a violation of the right to life itself, because it often leads to the bleeding of death.

This practice is often based on local cultural heritage, customs and traditions, and sometimes associated with religions, although there is no veritable religious support for this practice and on the contrary everything points against it.

At the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, as we commemorate this day, we are taking the opportunity to note that this practice should be considered a punishable offence and that national legislation should play its role in criminalizing it with clear provisions and imposing deterrent penalties on perpetrators. We also take this opportunity to advocate for the purification of customs, traditions and legacies of practices that violate human rights. We affirm that there is no religious reference to this custom in all religions, which are intended to only honour the human being and to preserve their dignity and humanity.

Geneva Institute for Human Rights cannot fail to call on all actors to spare no effort to combat this inexorable custom. Every effort made in this regard, however modest it may seem, can contribute to defeating this practice and saving an innocent girl from it.

We wish every child in the world a safe, healthy, physical and psychological life.


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