The 6th February 2017 is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Female Genital Mutilation, also known as FGM involves changing or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. However FGM still occurs today, particularly in third world countries and this needs to be stopped.

Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Girls aged 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice. FGM cause severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths.

The purpose of this important day is part of the Sustainable Development Goals published in 2015 which calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under Goal 5 on Gender Equality. Target 5.3 calls to Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage as well as female genital mutilation. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. The practice also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.

It should be everybody’s duty to try and raise awareness about FGM, and to support the prevention of this practice in all countries around the world. Empower communities to condone this horrific practice and ensure the right to life to young women all around the world who are denied the right to sexuality purely because of their gender.