Home Health As SGBV Spreads Globally: 4.3Million Girls At Risk …UNFPA Estimates; As Liberia Moves To Halt Said Practice

As SGBV Spreads Globally: 4.3Million Girls At Risk …UNFPA Estimates; As Liberia Moves To Halt Said Practice

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MONROVIA: In observance of the “International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation,” the United States Embassy accredited near Monrovia has published an estimated number of girls expected to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation, a harmful traditional practice that is widespread globally.

In its publication, the U.S. Embassy quoted the recent (2023) report from the United Nations Funds for Population Activity (UNFPA), which estimated that 4.3 million girls may become victims from FGM this year.

“Today is International day of Zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 to amplify and direct the efforts to eliminate FGM”, the U.S. embassy wrote.
Female genital mutilation is a practice that involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

Internationally recognized as a human rights violation, it is estimated that some 200 million girls and women globally have undergone some form of female genital mutilation.

Although the practice is declining in the majority of countries where it is prevalent, most of these are also experiencing a high rate of population growth, meaning that the number of girls who undergo FGM will continue to grow if the practice continues at current levels.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the first-ever resolution against female genital mutilation, calling for intensified global efforts to eliminate the practice.

In 2015, female genital mutilation was included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals under Target 5.3, which calls for the elimination of all forms of harmful practices.

Yet FGM remains widespread. In 2023, UNFPA estimates that nearly 4.3 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation globally.

Population growth means that this number is projected to rise to 4.6 million in the year 2030, unless efforts to end it are intensified.

If female genital mutilation continues at current rates, an estimated 68 million girls will be subjected to this practice between 2015 and 2030 in 25 countries where it is routinely practiced and where relevant data are available.

A more recent study has also estimated an additional two million girls to be at risk of this harmful practice due to COVID-19.

Research has also proven how in 2020 and 2022, COVID-19 compounded the vulnerability of girls and women, especially those at risk of female genital mutilation.

The pandemic further entrenched the gender inequalities, economic disparities and health risks faced by women and girls and disrupted programs to prevent female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.

UNFPA estimates that due to COVID-19, an extra two million cases of female genital mutilation could take place over the next decade, which could otherwise have been averted at 33 per cent reduction in progress towards ending the practice.

The internationally recognized NGO said, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed to end female genital mutilation, engaging whole communities and focusing on human rights and gender equality. It noted how the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who are subjected to the practice and its consequences must be urgently addressed.

UNFPA, together with UNICEF, leads the Joint Program on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, the largest global program to accelerate the elimination of this harmful practice.

The program currently focuses on 17 countries as well as supporting regional and global initiatives.

Rooted in gender inequality, female genital mutilation limits opportunities for women and girls around the world to exercise their rights and realize their potential. While progress has been made, girls today are a third less likely to undergo the harmful practice than 30 years ago.

The practice can cause short-and long-term health complications including chronic pain, infections, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety and depression, birth complications, infertility and, in the worst cases, death.

It is internationally recognized as an extreme violation of the rights of women and girls.
In every society where it is practiced, female genital mutilation is a manifestation of deeply entrenched gender inequality. It persists for many reasons. In some societies, for example, it is considered a rite of passage. In others, it is seen as a prerequisite for marriage.
In some communities whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, the practice may even be attributed to religious beliefs.

It predicted that an estimated $2.4 billion is needed to achieve this goal in 31 priority countries, but only $275 million is expected to be spent; a resource gap of about $2.1 billion. Further, humanitarian crises including disease, climate change, and armed conflict could cause a rollback of current progress.
With eight years remaining in this decade of action, partnerships with men and boys can play a crucial role in eliminating the practice, transforming deeply rooted social and gender norms and allowing girls and women to realize their rights and potential in terms of health, education, income, and equality.

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation” this year, was being celebrated or observed under the theme: “Partnership with Men and Boys to Transform Social and Gender Norms to End FGM”.

The UNFPA, in observance of the FGM day encouraged the fostering the engagement of men and boys, and the global community in eliminating the practice and to lift the voices of women and girls.

It says such initiatives have already resulted in a surge of male allies, including religious and traditional leaders, health workers, law enforcement officials, members of civil society, and grassroots organizations, leading to notable achievements in the protection of women and girls.

In Liberia, the National Council of Chiefs and Elders in November 2022, committed its members to closing bush schools and stop the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Montserrado.

The Head of the Traditional Council, and Chief Zoe of Liberia, Zanzan Karwor, made the commitment during the launch of the 16 days of activism against Sexual and Gender Base Violence (SGBV), in Sonkay

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