February 6 is International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a statement issued by the European Commission (EU) in Ghana said on Tuesday in Accra.
FGM is one of the inter-related human rights, sexual and reproductive health problems the European Union has committed to address as part of its policy for providing support in developing countries. In a statement the EU said FGM has serious consequences for pregnancies and childbirth and women who were subjected to cutting were more likely to end up with obstetric fistula. FGM is said to be prevalent in 28 African countries, in a few Arab and Asian countries.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that, 130 million women and girls have been subjected to the practice and additional 2 million girls each year are at risk. This corresponded to 5,500 mutilations per day. "Violating the rights of women or girls can never be justified on grounds of cultural relativism or in the name of tradition", Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Union Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, said.
Ferrero-Waldner said the UN Commission on the status of women adopted the Resolution Ending Female Genital Mutilation, recognizing that FGM violated and impaired the enjoyment of the human rights of women and girls. Adding that, the EU has made quite clear its position on the unacceptability of traditional practices, both within the union and in third countries.
"We need to make sure that all countries understand our position and advocate for these human rights to be respected, including the context of human rights dialogues and consultations as well as other policy dialogues with third countries," he emphasized. Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid said, they condemned the practice of FGM that still occurred in a number of countries which caused great deal of suffering and serious threat to the health of women and girls.
"We are encouraged that some partner countries have already introduced legislation against this harmful practice but we would stress that, the commission continues to take every opportunity to convince other partners to do the same", he said. 5 Feb. 08