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General Assembly Votes to Ban Female Genital Mutilation

United Nations, Dec 20 2012 (IPS) - The international NGO Coalition to Ban Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) held a press conference Thursday to celebrate the adoption of the recent General Assembly resolution “Intensifying Global Efforts for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.”

In addition to being a worldwide ban on FGM, this resolution also demonstrates international recognition of these practices as a violation of human rights, which provides clear support to the activists who are already at the forefront of this fight to bring an end to these practices.

“This resolution is dedicated to intensifying global action against all forms of violence and in particular female genital mutilation, which forms a threat to the health and well-being of women and girls,” said Der Kogda, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Burkina Faso to the United Nations.

The Ambassador announced that the adoption of the resolution shows a manifestation of political willingness to take concrete and decisive action on a governmental level and intensify the measurements to protect women and girls and end impunity.

“This reflects a change in views as female genital mutilation seems to continue,” asserts Niccolò Figá-Talamanca, Secretary-General of the NGO No Peace without Justice.

“This is not some kind of disease we’re trying to find a cure for. This is a violation by somebody on somebody else. This is not just health issue, but a severe human rights issue,” he added.

Figá-Talamanca said the time has come to change this misconception on FGM solely being a health issue rather than a human right violation. “These FGM practices are not new issues however there is a need for a new approach and proper legislation. These laws will give people a reason to say no.”

“The purpose of these laws is to inform families that this is not good for their children. Parents will do anything to do what is right for their children, even if that means breaking the law,” says Figá-Talamanca.

“To show them that these practices are bad for their children, leaving scars and permanent physical damage, might change the perspective of these families and take away a social pressure to insist on doing it. So, change the direction of the social pressure,” said  the SG of No Peace without Justice.

Mariam Lamizana, president of the Inter-African Committee on the Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children said: “You have to reach out to these families with people whom they rely on -so-called confidants- to slowly change their views by talking to them about the consequences for their children.”

Lamizana said it is all about the approach strategies applied on a community level concerning the attempt to reach families and detain them from engaging in the FGM practices.

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