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
0

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.


North Koreans pay tribute to Kim’s father in freezing cold

Updated 17 min 5 sec ago
0

North Koreans pay tribute to Kim’s father in freezing cold

  • Referred to as the Day of the Shining Star, the occasion is celebrated with ice skating displays, flower shows, and laudatory tributes in state media

PYONGYANG: The Day of the Shining Star dawned bitterly cold in Pyongyang. But thousands of North Koreans lined up in temperatures of minus 8 degrees Celsius on Saturday to pay their respects to late leader Kim Jong Il on his birthday.
Kim, the son of the isolated North’s founder Kim Il Sung and the father and predecessor of current leader Kim Jong Un, was born on February 16.
According to Pyongyang’s orthodoxy, he came into the world in 1942, in a snow-covered hut at a secret camp on the slopes of Mount Paektu, the spiritual birthplace of the Korean people, where his father was fighting occupying Japanese forces.
Outside historians point instead to official Soviet records, which say he was born a year earlier in a Siberian village where Kim Il Sung was in exile.
Either way, it is a key anniversary in a nuclear-armed nation whose people are taught from birth to revere the “Paektu bloodline,” as the Kim family which has ruled it for three generations is known.
Referred to as the Day of the Shining Star, the occasion is celebrated with ice skating displays, flower shows, and laudatory tributes in state media, all reinforcing the underlying narrative.
Driver Kim Chol Jun, 42, took his two boys to Mansu Hill, where giant statues of the two older Kims look out over the capital, to pay his respects to them and the current leader.
“No sons and daughters feel tired when they visit their parents,” he said. “The great leaders are regarded as our own parents, so I visit here to bow before our parents with my sons.”
Ordinary North Koreans consistently express unequivocal support for the leadership and its policies when speaking to foreign media.
Snow dusted the two monumental panels — one to the fight against Japanese occupiers, the other to the building of socialism — that flank the statues, their faces bathed in the light of the rising sun as small children swept the steps clean.
In pride of place before the bronze effigies stood a large floral tribute emblazoned with the name of Kim Jong Un, who is due to hold his second summit with US President Donald Trump at the end of the month.
Pyongyang is under multiple international sanctions over its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, which Washington is pressing it to give up. North Korea has rejected demands for what it calls its “unilateral” disarmament.
Turn by turn, groups ranging from couples and families to hundreds-strong detachments of workers or soldiers assembled in front of the images.
After placing individual blooms or flower baskets before the figures, they lined up as an announcer intoned: “Let us pay tribute,” and bowed deeply, the military personnel saluting.
Kim Jong Il died in 2011 and his remains are preserved in a memorial palace on the outskirts of Pyongyang, but officially he remains eternal General Secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.
Retired actress Ri Cho Ok, 77, instantly became emotional when asked about the late leader, her voice trembling as she described how much she missed him and how standing before the statues brought the incumbent to mind.
Kim Jong Il was a film director himself and renowned cinephile, to the extent he had a top South Korean director and actress kidnapped so they could develop the North’s cinema industry. Pyongyang says their eight-year stay was voluntary.
“The great general taught me step-by-step as I was becoming an actress,” Ri said, “and gave me many orders and medals.”
But, she added, “it was like I received all the honors in the world when I met him.”