African Lawmakers Appeal For U.N. Resolution Banning Female Genital Mutilation

The two-day Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ended Tuesday in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, with participants, including lawmakers from 27 African countries, appealing to the U.N. to adopt a resolution that bans FGM on the basis that it is “contrary to human rights,” Radio France International reports (Bojang, 5/4).

“The cutting or removal of young girls’ and women’s clitoris and/or labia affects some 120 to 140 million women … mostly in Africa and the Middle East, according to the World Health Organisation,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Often carried out for deep-seated religious or cultural reasons, it can lead to infection, urinary tract problems, mental trauma, sterility or complications during childbirth, and in some cases fatal haemorrhaging,” AFP reports.

“In Africa, around 91 million girls aged nine and under have undergone the practice, with three million operated on each year, the UN population fund’s envoy Rose Gkuba told the conference,” the news service adds (5/4).

Though “[m]ost countries in Africa have signed treaties and conventions on FGM,” they have experienced problems implementing of enforcing those laws, RFI continues.  The conference “aimed to help put together legal mechanisms for the eradication of FGM in Africa,” according to the news service (5/4).

Addressing the conference, “Senegal’s parliament speaker Mamadou Seck said the key to fighting genital mutilation was ‘education and persuasion, to convince but not coerce,'” AFP writes. “Senegal is one of 19 African countries that have banned the practice and its Families Minister Ndeye Khady Diop said a nationwide campaign between 2000 and 2005 managed to reduce the number of mutilations by over 70 percent. … Dakar is preparing to launch a second campaign that hopes to eradicate the practice completely by 2015, she said” (5/4).

According to RFI, Italian Senator and former EU Commissioner for Health Emma Bonino said, “This is a tradition that has been globalised […] so I think that implies a sense of responsibility, both from north and south. Simply, this is a universal issue” (5/4).

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