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Friday, September 18, 2015

Marathon with award winning athlete Kiprotich to stop Female Genital Mutilation

By Esther Nakkazi

The first-ever marathon in an effort to accelerate the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) will happen tomorrow September 19, 2015 in Kapchorwa district.
It is organised by the Church of Uganda Sebei diocese in conjunction with Kapchorwa Local Government leadership with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The ‘FGM Marathon' is to support government effort to eliminate FGM in the districts of Kapchorwa, Bukwo and Kween which is home to the Sabiny as well as raise hope and protect the young girls from undergoing the through the harmful cultural practice. 
The archbishop of the church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali will be the chief runner. Other key runners will include UNFPA Country representative and award winning athlete Stephen Kiprotich.

FGM violates the human rights of girls and women and should not be performed under any circumstance, whether by traditional excisors or by medical personnel, says a statement from UNFPA Uganda. 
'The medicalization of FGM is a violation of human rights that raises serious concerns. There is an urgent need to intensify, expand and improve efforts to abandon FGM."

UNFPA supports a culturally sensitive, community-led approach to addressing FGM. However, cultural arguments cannot be used to condone FGM.

Female genital mutilations (FGM) comprise all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical purposes. FGM is widespread in many developing countries, and has spread to some immigrant communities in other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America. 
FGM is usually carried out on girls younger than 15 – sometimes during the first weeks of life. Occasionally, adult and married women are also subjected to the procedure. 
Here is what UNFPA is doing about FGM: 
In 2007, UNFPA and UNICEF worked closely with WHO and other UN agencies and partners to issue the Interagency Statement on eliminating FGM. The Joint Statement was endorsed by 10 UN agencies and launched in 2007 by the Deputy Secretary-General.

As a result, UNFPA and UNICEF now lead a joint programme to end FGM in one generation. The Joint Programme worked in 15 countries during Phase I (2008-2013), and is currently working in 17 priority countries, starting in January 2014, until December 2017.

UNFPA addresses FGM holistically by funding and implementing culturally-sensitive programmes for the abandonment of the practice, advocating for legal and policy reforms and building national capacity to stop all forms of FGM.

UNFPA is leading the work on development of specific legislation with government partners, and on implementation of laws and bills. UNFPA has taken joint action with local human rights groups and governments in several countries to develop legislation to end the practice.

The enforcement of legislation is part of the effort towards accountability by governments towards their human rights obligations internationally and regionally.

UFPA also support the coordination of efforts towards abandonment of FGM by government stakeholders and NGOs.

UNFPA works at the community level, and promotes collective abandonment of the practice – recognizing that FGM is a social norm that is best left behind in a collective manner – and awareness-raising dialogue through social networks.

UNFPA supports treatment and care to women and girls suffering from its immediate or long-term complications, and works with government partners in order to mainstream FGM prevention and care in all aspects of SRH services.

In recent years, UNFPA has drawn public attention to the elimination of FGM, advocating for actions, such as the need to work with communities in order to prevent the practice.

The 6th of February is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM. At country level, UNFPA has formed partnerships with relevant stakeholders, including government ministries. UNFPA has also developed ties to NGOs, safe motherhood projects, community and faith-based organizations, religious leaders and representatives of the media. Multichannel communication and a holistic approach, working on different levels, are key to the strategy followed by the Joint Programme.

Q & A

Why is FGM performed?

Cultural practices, such as FGM, are rooted in a set of beliefs, values, cultural and social behaviour patterns that govern the lives of people in society. There are many reasons given for practicing FGM. Here are a few: FGM is performed to control women’s sexuality. It is seen as part of a girl’s initiation into womanhood and as part of heritage/tradition. In some communities, the external female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed to promote hygiene and aesthetic appeal. Economic necessity can determine whether women undergo the procedure. FGM sometimes is a prerequisite for women’s right to inherit. FGM may also be a major income source for practitioners.

· Why does FGM persist?

Although FGM has been shown to have many harmful effects, both physical and emotional, the practice is sustained by social perceptions, including that girls will face shame, social exclusion and diminished marriage prospects, if they forego the practice. These perceptions must change.

· Since FGM is part of a cultural tradition, can it still be condemned?

Yes. The function of culture and tradition is to provide a framework for human well-being; cultural arguments can never be used to condone violence against persons, male or female. Moreover, culture is not static, but constantly changing and adapting. Nevertheless, activities for the elimination of FGM should be developed and implemented in a way that is sensitive to the cultural and social background of the communities that practice it. Behaviour can change when people understand the hazards of certain practices and when they realize that it is possible to give up harmful practices without giving up meaningful aspects of their culture.

For more Q&A, please refer to the webpage dedicated to the Joint Programme on Female genital mutilations/Cutting on the global UNFPA website.

REFERENCES

Female genital mutilations/Cutting on UNFPA website

Female genital mutilations/Cutting, FAQs on UNFPA website

Eliminating Female genital mutilations: An Interagency Statement, UNFPA and other UN

A Holistic Approach to the Abandonment of Female genital mutilations/Cutting, UNFPA, 2007

Annual Reports on the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilations Cutting: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Summary Report of Phase I (2008-2013).

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