Saturday, May 10, 2008

Djibouti to work with UN to eliminate female genital mutilation

Djibouti has become the first country to launch a joint programme by United Nations agencies to move more quickly to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM).

The joint programme, run by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is to begin in a country where nine out of every ten females has undergone the harmful practice.

Djibouti’s First Lady, Kadra Mahamoud Haïd, who officially launched the programme yesterday, said that it was “a route towards social progress, a tool to fulfil basic human rights, especially on integrity and dignity for girls and women.” She also noted that, since FGM is gender-based violence, the Government of Djibouti, “has set up legal and institutional mechanisms to eradicate the violence.”

A World Health Organization (WHO) study in six African countries found that women who have undergone FGM face significantly higher risks of extensive bleeding, prolonged labour and death when giving birth.

UNICEF estimates that around 3 million girls are at risk of FGM every year.

Speaking on behalf of the UN, Margaret Thuo said that “every community desires to live in dignity and with security,” but added that this is not possible when the human rights of one segment of society are denied.

Djibouti’s Minister of Women’s Promotion, Family Welfare and Social Affairs, Nimo Boulhan, said, “whatever the justifications are, we need to address this problem and stop subjecting girls and women to unnecessary suffering.”

The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme and Trust Fund to accelerate the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting aims to build partnerships with Government, donors, foundations, the media and religious leaders.

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