FGM is child abuse, says UN Population Fund chief

Jul 15, 2016

By BBC News

The head of the United Nations Population Fund has, for the first time, described female genital mutilation as “child abuse”.

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin told the BBC that the custom was a human rights abuse and needed to end immediately.

More than 200 million women and girls around the world have undergone the procedure, where parts of the female genitals are removed.

The UN estimates a further three million are at risk of being mutilated.

Dr Osotimehin said: “There is absolutely no reason to cut anybody, and it seemed to us that it is part of the gender imbalance that has always existed in these communities which are based on patriarchy. I think it’s child abuse.”

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7 comments on “FGM is child abuse, says UN Population Fund chief

  • Gender imbalance?

    In every single one of the countries where the genitals of girls are mutilated, the genitals of boys are as well. It’s bad enough that no one bothers talking about that, but now this guy is directly implying it doesn’t happen.

    Leave the genitals of children alone. Of both sexes.

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  • Female genital mutilation was term term to help see off the practice. Too often reduced to its acronym it seems to have lost its punch. “Child Abuse” used here should not suffer so. It may facilitate legislators and prosecutors bearing down on the problem co-opting and broadening the use of existing uncontroversial legislation.

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  • At least information is now becoming available in England!


    The first ever recorded figures for female genital mutilation (FGM) show that between April 2015 and March 2016 there were 5,702 new cases in England.

    The data was recorded by doctors and nurses who have been obliged to do so since July 2015.

    Most of the women and girls were born in Africa and underwent the procedure there. But 43 girls were born in the UK and 18 of those had it done here.

    The data was collected from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

    The true extent of the abuse is thought to be much higher with the government estimating 170,000 women and girls in the UK have undergone the procedure.

    It says a further 65,000 girls under the age of 13 are at risk of female genital mutilation.

    Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have not collected any figures on FGM.

    It’s hoped the data will provide an idea of how to tackle the abuse, which is illegal in the UK.

    No-one has ever been convicted of carrying out female genital mutilation

    “It’s very hard to prosecute because you’re asking a child to go into court and testify against their parents,” FGM campaigner Hibo Wadere explains.

    “These parents aren’t actually abusers in their mind, they think what they’re doing is good for their daughters. so the children don’t see this as child abuse.”

    Many girls are taken to their family’s home countries during the summer holidays so that FGM can be carried out

    FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and the law was strengthened in 2003 to prevent girls travelling from the UK and undergoing FGM abroad.

    In Somalia in eastern Africa, FGM is legal and 95% of women there have undergone the procedure.

    The new data shows Somalia accounts for more than a third of all newly recorded women and girls with a known country of birth.

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  • This is sick.Religion has played a part in most all our lives in one way or another.It is time to leave it behind ,along with all its barbaric ways.We never needed to be mutilated and still don’t.Just because religion says there is something wrong with you , does not make it true.There is something terribly wrong with the religious.That is easy to see.

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  • Even when laws are passed enforcement is frequently abysmally lax, penalties feeble, and religious people find ways to wriggle around the rules!


    Campaigners have welcomed the arrest of Egypt’s first doctor to have been convicted of carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM).

    Raslan Fadl was sentenced in January 2015 over the death of Souheir al-Bataa, a 13-year-old girl who was subjected to the illegal procedure.

    However, he avoided arrest and was said to have carried on working as a doctor.

    Domestic and international pressure apparently prompted Fadl to surrender, campaign group Equality Now said.

    FGM was banned in Egypt in 2008 but the country still has one of the highest rates of the practice in the world.

    More than 90% of girls and women aged between 15 and 59 in the country have undergone the procedure in recent years, according to UN estimates.

    Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Middle East and North Africa Consultant for Equality Now, said Egypt must adopt a “zero tolerance policy” towards FGM, which includes taking swift action against the health workers who carry it out.

    Unless this is done, she said, “Egyptian girls will continue to face this extreme human rights abuse”.

    Fadl was convicted in January 2015 over the death of al-Bataa, who was from a small farming community on the outskirts of the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

    He was sentenced to two years in prison for manslaughter, as well as a further three months for performing FGM.

    However, he reportedly reached a deal with the girl’s family that means he will no longer have to serve the manslaughter sentence – and is only liable for the three-month term for FGM.

    During the trial, prosecutors argued that al-Bataa had been forced to undergo FGM by her father.

    Fadl denied carrying out the procedure, saying he had only treated her for warts and that her death had been caused by an allergic reaction to penicillin.

    Both he and Suhair’s father were cleared of any wrongdoing at an initial trial. But prosecutors appealed against the verdict and it was overturned in November 2015.

    Fadl’s clinic was ordered to close for a year. Suhair’s father was meanwhile given a three-month suspended sentence.

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  • When these perpetrators walk away with just a slap on the wrist then nothing will ever change. I want to say that a grassroots protest movement is all that will work but where will it come from? If women support this crime and deliver their own daughters to the butchers then all hope is lost. Ignorance and cruelty is what we’re dealing with here. Ignorant cruel bitches.

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  • Ah! Religious culture – impervious to reason, and uncaring about human beings’ suffering or death!


    The father of a 10-year-old girl who died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia has defended the practice.

    Dahir Nur’s daughter died of blood loss on 17 July, two days after being taken to a traditional circumciser.

    But he told Voice of America (VOA) “people in the area are content” with FGM even considering the dangers, adding it is the country’s “culture”.

    According to Unicef, 98% of girls and women in Somalia have undergone FGM.

    This is despite Somalia’s constitution prohibiting – although not outlawing – the practice, which involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and can cause profound health problems.

    Dr Abdirahman Omar Hassan, director of Hanano hospital in the city of Dhusamareb, told VoA he had never seen “anyone who was mutilated like that in my life”.

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