The United Nations Children’s Fund says increasing commitment against female genital mutilation could eliminate the practice but as yet is not enough.
The practice “violates the human rights and undermines the health and well-being of some 3 million girls each year,” said the children’s charity.
“More than 130 million girls and women in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated today have undergone some form of FGM – and the impact on their lives is enormous.
In comments marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the charity said support of health workers was critical.
“Front-line health workers have inside knowledge of the social dynamics in the communities they serve and the social norms that perpetuate FGM, and they can speed up the rapidly declining support for the practice. Their patients know and trust them,” it said.
“Health workers also have a deep understanding of the harmful consequences of this practice. They see the urinary, menstrual, and obstetric complications — including haemorrhage, infection and death — caused by it. And, they also witness the emotional wounds FGM inflicts, trauma which often lasts a lifetime.”
According to UNICEF, “Health workers are also uniquely well-positioned to lead the effort to resist a disturbing trend that has emerged in many countries: The medicalization of FGM. Around one in five girls have been cut by a trained health-care provider. In some countries, this can reach as high as three in four girls.”
In a joint statement, it said, “We know that health workers cannot do this alone. Our organizations, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and UNICEF, through our Joint Programme on FGM; the International Confederation of Midwives; and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, are committed to supporting efforts to provide health workers with the skills and information they need to accelerate the abandonment of FGM – and to treat the complications that arise from the practice.