6th February is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM which is a day of international observation sponsored by the United Nations. As FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights of girls and women, the 6th February is a day that helps us all raise awareness about this “hidden” crime. The theme from the UN this year is ‘Unleashing Youth Power’:
“…this International Day will focus on mobilizing youth around the eliminations of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation under the theme: “Unleashing Youth Power: One decade of accelerating actions for zero female genital mutilation.”
Savera UK Youth unleash their power
For the 2019 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, Savera UK Youth developed an exhibition dedicated to female genital mutilation after listening to a survivor tell her story. They exhibited this work in London as part of the National FGM Centre’s seminar. The young people then expanded the exhibition to include a performance and then launched it as part of UK Parliament Week. The young people are hoping to exhibit their work in different locations and perform in order to raise awareness amongst other young people about these issues and encourage them to speak out too.
Why is it important to have awareness days like the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM?
FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is carried out for various cultural reasons within families and communities in the misguided notion that it will benefit the girl in some way e.g. to keep her virginity sacred until marriage. The procedure has absolutely no health benefits to girls and despite popular belief there are no religious texts that say that this practice needs to be endured, however religion is used as a reason to justify the practice.
The FGM tradition reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture, cruelty, inhumane or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure quite often results in death.
Although the total number of cases of FGM remains unknown due to lack of reporting, it is reported that 60,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK and 137,000 women and girls living with consequences in this country. Last year saw the first ever prosecution for FGM in the UK despite it being illegal in this country since 1985. Although prosecution is vital, prevention is the key to ending this crime.
The volume of women and girls across the world affected by FGM as well as the health risks and complications are the reasons why the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is so imperative. It is vital to collaborate with professionals to recognise the signs someone at risk as well as working with communities where it is culturally accepted.
What can you do to help Savera UK eradicate harmful practices?
Savera UK campaign to eliminate harmful practices and provide life-saving services to those at risk, regardless of age, culture, sexuality or gender.
We encourage people to speak out about issues such as female genital mutilation in order to raise awareness and break the silence about these “taboo” subjects.
We are committed and passionate about the work that we do and we need your help to continue to support to break the silence on these very important human rights issues.