International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation – February 6, 2024

In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly declared February 6, International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The day aims to generate awareness and intensify efforts to end the practice worldwide. There are strong reasons to believe female genital mutilation could end in a single generation.

Although historians are divided on where the practice originated, female genital mutilation was prevalent before the establishment of Islam or Christianity. Not only has it been around for a long time, but several communities around the world still practice it. Instances of female genital mutilation are common in Sub-Saharan and Arab countries.

Female genital mutilation can severely impact the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls. Women subjected to genital mutilation are at risk of postpartum hemorrhage, fetal death, obstructed labor, and HIV infection.

How has the practice continued for so long? One of the primary forces driving this violent practice is the fear of social stigma. Social norms that condone female genital mutilation are layered and complex across geographic locations which makes tackling the issue doubly challenging for people and agents of change globally.

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation falls on February 6 each year. Despite being in the 21st century, it’s deeply disturbing that this violent tradition still exists. You’d be surprised how common it is — from Africa and Eastern Europe to Arab countries, Asia, and Latin America. Removing external female genitalia has roots in thousands of years of gender inequality. Some cultures view it as a rite of passage into womanhood. Others practice it to control a woman’s sexuality and pleasure. The U.N. General Assembly has declared February 6 as International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation to raise awareness about this humanitarian crisis.

Female genital mutilation refers to the complete or partial removal of external female genitalia. It involves piercing and cutting off the clitoris, or sewing shut all or part of a girl’s or woman’s external genitals.

The world continues to fail its female population where approximately 200 million girls and women have undergone genital mutilation to date, a number that continues to rise.

The psychological effects of female genital mutilation are insidious and long-lasting. Residual trauma can lead to behavioral issues in children, debilitating anxiety, stress, and sexual dysfunction.

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