Press Release

UNFPA Calls for End to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

06 February 2006

UNITED NATIONS, New York — UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, today pledged its continued efforts to end the harmful practice of female genital mutilation or cutting, which is inflicted on an estimated 6,000 girls every single day.

As the world observes the International Day for the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said: “I join many others in calling for an end to this practice, which violates the rights of women and girls and harms their sexual and reproductive health.”

More than 130 million girls and women worldwide have undergone some form of genital cutting or mutilation, and about 2 million women and girls face this risk each year. The practice is carried out not only in countries in Africa and the Middle East, but also among diasporas in developed countries worldwide. The adverse impacts on women’s health, both immediate and long-term, include bleeding, infection, prolonged and obstructed labour, as well as infertility and psychological traumas.

In addition to supporting women’s groups and parliamentarians in promoting legislation to protect women and girls against female genital mutilation or cutting, said Ms. Obaid, “we recognize that traditions are often stronger than law and legal action by itself is not enough.”

That is why UNFPA adopts a culturally-sensitive approach by offering local communities alternative safe rituals. A successful example is the ‘circumcision by words’ initiative in Kenya, which “preserves positive aspects of the cultural tradition with a week-long programme of seclusion, traditional teachings, health education and counselling”. UNFPA also focuses on the cutters themselves, assisting them to find alternative sources of income.

“I would like to pay tribute to the countless women, men and youth in many countries who are working to end the practice,” said Ms. Obaid. She also pledged continued UNFPA support to these efforts and to improving women’s health and promote women’s empowerment and equality.

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The United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028

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