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4.1 million girls at risk of female genital mutilation – UN

Says COVID-19 will disrupt efforts to end child marriage

THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says about 4.1 million girls are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) this year globally.

Monica Ferro, the Director of UNFPA disclosed this Wednesday through the verified social media handle of the United Nations (UN).

She expressed concerns that the incidents were clear violations of human rights and medical ethics in some cases where health practitioners are involved.

“This year, for example, 4.1 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation. One in five marriages today is to the underage females….,” says Ferro.

“Our reports cite at least 19 specific practices against girls and women that are most universally been denounced as abuse and violations of human rights ranking from breast ironing to virginity testing,” she added.

She described the findings as first of its kind which revealed wrong practices and negative attitudes about the value of girls among other means used to control their bodies and sexuality.

According to the UN organisation, about 52 million women and girls have undergone FGM performed by doctors, nurses or midwives.

It defined female genital mutilation as an “invasive procedure which entails partial or total removal of female external genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

The culture of FGM, the UNFPA emphasised violates women’s and girl’s fundamental rights to health.

“It can result in severe physical and psychological harm that continues throughout a woman’s life. It can even kill her,” the UN body stated.

 Ferro  further stated  that the global pandemic would affect the UN’s effort from halting child marriage.

This,she said could result in an additional 13 million child marriages by 2030.

“COVID-19 will disrupt our efforts to end child marriage…,” Ferro said.

The UNFPA director highlighted how the pandemic has prevented women from accessing family planning thus left them with the challenge of unwanted pregnancies, gender-based violence among other harmful practices.

Some of these challenges, she noted could increase in the months ahead.

She, however, expressed excitement that the FGM has been on a gradual decline as people are currently rejecting the harmful practices; national lawmakers enacting laws to discourage the trend.

 

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