By Patrick Mwesigye
Founder and Team Leader: Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF)
Vice President: Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN)
On the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) (6th Feb 2016)
WHO defines FGM practice as procedure that involves partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or non-medical reasons.
FGM is a dangerous, very painful, uncouth, and harmful cultural practice that jeopardizes the health, rights & wellbeing of girls and women and sometimes resulting in deaths.
This culturally harmful practice is commonly practiced in many parts of Africa and the Middle East. According to WHO, FGM is practiced in about 30 countries in East, Western and Northern Africa and some of these countries include; Egypt, Somalia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda among others.
According to a 2013 UNICEF report covering 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, Egypt has the region’s highest total number of FGM cases with 27.2 million women having undergone FGM, while Somalia has the highest prevalence rate of FGM at 98%.Estimates about the prevalence of FGM vary by source.
Practice of FGM is a continuation of gender inequality in societies where it is practiced, and it has devastating consequences on the girl’s life, family and community. Practice of FGM also comes with devastating medical, social, emotional, legal and economic repercussions for girls and women.
Ending FGM therefore requires accelerated efforts. This will require taking action at legal and policy level as well as commitment to finance and enforce relevant laws in place.
Ending FGM also requires mult-stakeholder efforts from cultural and religious institutions, media, political leadership and the community at large to take action and speak about ending the practice.
Elimination of FGM is a human rights imperative and an important end in itself. Ending FGM will also unleash girls’ potential and lead to greater Demographic Dividend for Africa.