World, Health

UN marks female genital mutilation zero-tolerance day

At least 200 million girls, women have undergone medically-unnecessary procedure, according to UNICEF

Michael Hernandez  | 06.02.2019
UN marks female genital mutilation zero-tolerance day

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

Hundreds of millions of women have been subjected to female genital mutilation, the UN said Wednesday as the world body marks the practice's zero-tolerance day.

While it has declined globally, at least 200 million girls and women between 15 and 19 years old in 30 countries have been subjected to the medically-unnecessary procedure, according to UNICEF. The exact number who have been forced to undergo the procedure is not known.

More than half of the women who have been subjected to it live in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia, according to the UN body which said it is nearly universal in Djibouti, Guinea and Somalia.

The UN warned that unless action to end the practice is immediately accelerated another 68 million girls will be "cut" by 2030.

"On this Day of Zero Tolerance, I call for increased, concerted and global action to end female genital mutilation and fully uphold the human rights of all women and girls," Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a brief statement.

The U.S. also marked the day by saying the practice "undermines the human rights of women and girls by damaging their health, limiting women’s economic opportunities and girls’ access to education, and increasing the likelihood of early and forced marriage."

State Department spokesman Robert Palladino issued a statement that read: "Gender-based violence against women and girls impedes equality and undermines peace, prosperity, and security for millions of women and girls around the world.”

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