8 - 14 Avenue de la Paix
in Geneva 1202
On 6 February 2018, the international community held an event in Geneva on the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to highlight that ending FGM is a political decision requiring action by a wide range of duty bearers from the community level up to parliaments, national governments and international development actors. Despite renewed political commitments, FGM abandonment remains a distant reality for millions of girls and women.
While much of the work is being done at the national and sub-national levels to raise awareness and galvanize stakeholders to put an end to this practice through comprehensive responses to FGM and its root causes, the international day has nonetheless held an important role to build political momentum and global policy awareness. Political drive has led to the adoption of national laws and policies criminalizing FGM in several countries where FGM is highly prevalent.
In order to ensure effective enforcement and implementation of laws, as well as adequate access to quality services for survivors of FGM and behavioral changes in communities and societies, the norms and standards enshrined in national laws need to be known and appropriated by girls, parents, community members and leaders, Human Rights Institutions, and health workers.
The medicalization of FGM, which means FGM practiced by a health professional, has emerged as a worrying trend in recent years, which legal and policy frameworks should not permit or tolerate. The norms and standards articulated in the national laws also apply in the context of health systems and therefore, health workers should be bound by them as was stated in WHO’s “Global strategy to stop health care providers from performing FGM”.
Furthermore, UNFPA/ASRO has recently finalized a report titled “FGM and Population Movements” which has underscored the fact that in a globalized world experiencing large movements of population, FGM is no longer a phenomenon circumscribed to national borders. Legal frameworks and health protocols need to take into consideration that reality in order to tackle FGM more effectively.
Human Rights Council resolutions, namely HRC 27/22 and HRC 32/21, have called on States to adopt legislation condemning and prohibiting FGM. Recent assessments of national legal frameworks show that firstly, national laws are often weak and not enforced, and secondarily that these laws do not always specifically apply to medical personnel that perform or facilitate FGM, or do not take into account trans-border issues that contribute to the perpetuation of the practice.
Countries need to enact strong laws that halt the practice of FGM and that also prohibit and punish medicalization of FGM with appropriate mechanisms and resources for their effective implementation and enforcement. The upcoming Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution on FGM to be tabled in June 2018 will provide an opportunity to address existing gaps and emerging challenges more vigorously.
The event will aim to enhance the normative and political response to FGM by Geneva-based Human Rights mechanisms and Member States by sharing and discussing evidence on the impact and remaining gaps and challenges of legal measures against FGM, including in the context of FGM
medicalization and trans-border issues.
The event will focus on the state of legal frameworks and related measures to end FGM at various levels: the community, national health systems and cross border practices including in the context of the diaspora (in countries receiving migrants from highly prevalent FGM countries).
A panel of speakers will discuss experiences from each perspective. In addition, the meeting will benefit from a variety of inputs, including factsheets, tools and guidance that have been developed by the partners organizing the event.
The event’s outcome will be a set of key messages, emerging from the discussions, to inform the upcoming Human Rights Council Resolution on FGM, as well as ongoing discussions on these issues. These messages will reflect the content of the deliberations by speakers and participants and
will be based on data and evidence contained in relevant documents which have informed the preparation of the meeting.
Translation will be provided in Arabic and French.
This event is supported by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva of the African Union, Burkina Faso, European Union, Egypt, Italy, Norway, Portugal, UK as well as UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, OHCHR, UN Women and the Inter-African Committee on traditional practices (IAC).