Justice for Persecuted Women

The U.N. ban on female genital mutilation must be promoted peacefully.

by Alexander H. Maurice

140 million women and girls live around the world with the effects of female genital mutilation, according to both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health Services. While the terminology for the practice varies from the neutral expression ‘female circumcision’ to the more precise ‘female genital cutting,’ the World Health Organization (WHO) firmly stands against forced female genital mutilation, which it says “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Furthermore this procedure offers “no health benefits for girls and women,” and “is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.”

While female genital mutilation is a criminal offense in many countries, such as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, there are many women within the immigrant communities of these countries living with the long term effects of genital mutilation, and legislators in these and other countries should be aware of it in order to better meet the needs of citizens. This is what the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada called for in a policy statement published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, in 2012.

Following a November resolution sponsored by 110 of the U.N. Member States, the General Assembly’s 194 Members passed a …

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