What is female genital mutilation and where does it happen?

A counsellor shows cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Minia, Egypt. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 February 2019

What is female genital mutilation and where does it happen?

  • FGM typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia
  • It dates back over 2,000 years and is practiced across many cultures and religions

LONDON: World leaders have pledged to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030, but campaigners say the ancient ritual remains deeply entrenched in many places.
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on Wednesday will highlight efforts to end the widely condemned practice thought to affect at least 200 million girls and women globally. Here are some facts:

• FGM dates back over 2,000 years and is practiced across many cultures and religions.
• It is practiced in at least 30 countries, mostly in Africa but also in pockets of the Middle East and Asia.
• FGM typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. In some cases the vaginal opening is sewn up. Other procedures, more common in parts of Asia, include nicking or pricking the clitoris.
• FGM can cause long lasting mental and physical health problems including chronic infections, menstrual problems, infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications.
• Somalia has the world's highest FGM prevalence (98 percent of women have been cut), followed by Guinea, Djibouti, Mali and Sierra Leone.
• Of the 28 countries in Africa where FGM is endemic, 22 have legislation criminalizing FGM, although enforcement is generally weak and prosecutions rare.
• Half of all girls who have undergone FGM or are at risk live in three countries — Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria — all of which have laws against FGM.
• Chad, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan, which are home to 16 million girls, have no law.
• There is an increasing trend for FGM to be carried out by health professionals rather than traditional cutters, particularly in Egypt, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria and Sudan.
• The ritual, often justified for cultural or religious reasons, is underpinned by the desire to control female sexuality.

Recent developments
• Somalia and Somaliland are drafting laws against FGM.
• Despite not yet having a law, Somalia announced its first FGM prosecution last year after a 10-year-old girl died.
• Britain secured its first successful FGM prosecution this month — more than 30 years after outlawing FGM.
• Sierra Leone banned FGM last month as part of a clamp down on the secret societies that practice it, but there are doubts over how it will be enforced.
• A one-year ban on FGM in Liberia expired last month. Campaigners continue to push for a law.

Sources: 28 Too Many, UNICEF

Decoder

What is FGM?

Short for female genital mutilation, FGM is an ancient ritual typically involving the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of women. It is practiced in at least 30 countries, mostly in Africa but also in pockets of the Middle East and Asia. World leaders have pledged to eradicate the practice, which can cause long-lasting mental and physical health problems including chronic infections, menstrual problems, infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications. Of the 28 countries in Africa where FGM is endemic, 22 have legislation criminalizing FGM, although enforcement is generally weak and prosecutions rare.


Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

Updated 37 min 34 sec ago

Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

  • Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds demonstrated against Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy
  • Posters appeared overnight in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan

SRINAGAR, India: Security forces used tear gas against stone-throwing local residents in Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar on Friday, after a third straight week of protests in the restive Soura district despite the imposition of tight restrictions.
Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds of locals staged a protest march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5.
Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India’s decision.
This was the first such call by separatists seeking Kashmir’s secession from India. India’s move was accompanied by travel and communication restrictions in Kashmir that are still largely in place, although some landlines were restored last week.
The UNMOGIP was set up in 1949 after the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, a Himalayan region both countries claim in full but rule in part. The group monitors cease-fire violations along the border between the countries.
In a narrow lane of Soura, blocked like many others with rocks and sheets of metal, residents hurled stones at the paramilitary police to stop them moving into an area around the local mosque, Jinab Sahib, which had earlier been packed for Friday prayers.
The police responded with several rounds of tear gas and chili grenades but were beaten back by dozens of stone-pelting men. Some men suffered pellet injuries.
The locals said the security forces had been repeatedly trying to move into Soura, often using tear gas and pellets.
“We are neither safe at home, nor outside,” said Rouf, who declined to give his full name. He had rubbed salt into his face to counteract the effects of tear gas.
The afternoon had begun peacefully, with men and women streaming into Jinab Sahib for afternoon prayers. A cleric then raised a call for “Azadi” – Urdu for freedom – several times, and declared Kashmir’s allegiance to neighboring Pakistan.
“Long live Pakistan,” the cleric said, as worshippers roared back in approval.
US President Donald Trump plans to discuss Kashmir when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in France this weekend, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.
Trump, who has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, will press Modi on how he plans to calm regional tensions after the withdrawal of Kashmir’s autonomy, and stress the need for dialogue, the official said.
Some Indian media reports on Friday said “terrorists” were trying to enter India from Afghanistan, citing unnamed government officials.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan responded on Twitter on Friday that such claims were being made to “divert attention” away from what he called human rights violations in Kashmir.
“The Indian leadership will in all probability attempt a false flag operation to divert attention,” Khan said.
Khan’s comments came a day after United Nations experts called on the Indian government to “end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests” in Kashmir, saying it would increase regional tensions.
“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense,” they said in a statement.
At least 152 people have been hurt by teargas and pellets since security forces launched their crackdown, data from the Himalayan region’s two main hospitals shows.
Large swathes of Srinagar remain deserted with shops shut except for some provision stores with shutters half-down. Police vans patrolled some areas announcing a curfew and asking people to stay indoors.
On the Dal Lake, long rows of houseboats, normally packed with tourists at this time of year, floated closed and empty, as police patrolled its mirror-calm waters in boats.