The United Nations General Assembly’s Human Rights committee has agreed, by consensus, to call for a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation. The Guardian reports,
The resolution, adopted by consensus by the UN general assembly’s human rights committee, calls the practice harmful and a serious threat to the psychological, sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.
It calls on the UN’s 193 member states to condemn the practice and launch educational campaigns for girls and boys, women and men, to eliminate it. It also urges all countries to enact and enforce legislation to prohibit FGM, to protect women and girls “from this form of violence” and to end impunity for violators.
With 110 sponsors the resolution is virtually certain to be approved by the full general assembly, which is expected to take it up in the second half of December. Although not legally binding, assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.
Female genital mutilation is defined by the World Health Organization as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Also referred to as female circumcision, it can be anything from removal of the clitoral hood and clitoris to removal of the above along with both the inner and outer labia followed by fusion of the wound, leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and menstruation. The hole is then usually opened for intercourse or childbirth.
This barbaric and extremely painful procedure (done many times with crude instruments and without anesthetic) is performed mostly in the Middle East and Africa. It is done to control women’s sexual behavior and generally removes the possibility of sexual pleasure, making intercourse a painful ordeal.
The move by the UN is a wonderful step in the right direction with regard to progress for the worldwide push to end this abominable practice.