AS today marks the International Day of Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the United Nations (UN) has called for more actions from member countries to end female circumcision by 2030.
Every year, February 6 is a day to support the eradication of female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, around the world.
The call was contained in a statement published on the UN website to mark the 2019 event on Wednesday.
“On this Day of Zero Tolerance, I call for increased, concerted and global action to end female genital mutilation and fully uphold the human rights of all women and girls,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterrres.
Part of the statement read that FGM violates women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity and leads to long term physical, psychological and social consequences.
The UN said world leaders, which include Nigeria’s, have backed the elimination of female genital mutilations as one of the targets in 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“At the national level, we need new policies and legislation protecting the rights of girls and women to live free from violence and discrimination,” UN statement reads. It urged the religious leaders to strike down myths that female circumcision has a basis in religion.
FGM is the cutting or removal of part or all the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.
Girls who undergo female genital mutilation face short-term complications like severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.
In Nigeria, the 2016/2017 Multiple Indicator Survey showed some decline in the incidence of female circumcision, according to UNICEF representative in the country, Mohamed Fall, on Wednesday.
He said that 18.4 percent of women aged 15 to 49 years undergo FGM as against 27 percent in 2011 while over 309 communities have publicly declared their abandonment of female genital mutilation in 2018.
Despite the decline, Fall said millions of girls and women still face the scourge of genital mutilation every year in the country.
Nigeria’s law banning FGM was signed in 2015 states that “any person who performs female circumcision or engages another to carry out such circumcision or mutilation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both.”