SWITZERLAND: Renewed Fight Against FGM

A round table conference, aimed at addressing the age-old culture of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM), will be held in Geneva on Tuesday.

The meeting is part of events marking the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting this year.

Every year, three million girls and women in the world, particularly in Africa go through FGM.

The Geneva forum, which brings together a range of actors working on the issue, is organised by several anti-FGM organisations and departments, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Organisation Migration (IOM) and the Département des institutions de l'Etat de Genève.

An estimated number of 6,000 women victims of FGM, most of who are Somalis, Ethiopians, Eritrean and Sudanese live in Switzerland, especially in Geneva.

"IOM has, therefore, initiated a programme to raise awareness of the dangers of following the practice among these migrant communities and to help improve knowledge of FGM among health professionals in the Geneva canton," IOM said in a statement.

A large number of health professionals in Switzerland had come across cases of FGM in their work.

Several programmes, including cultural orientation and literacy courses have been designed to raise awareness on the practice that health expert said threatens women's health.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) also expressed its commitment to end FGM, stressing that it increases women and children's "vulnerability to HIV, raise the risk of maternal and infant mortality, and harm their psychological and sexual and reproductive health."

"Many women and girls are traumatized by the experience and suffer in silence, afraid of being excluded from their communities," said UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.

"In line with the resolution, UNFPA calls on governments to develop effective policies for the elimination of female genital mutilation." He said this would protect the rights of women and girls.

Most African communities argued that the practice cleans and reduces sexual urges of girls and women.

SOURCE: afrolNews

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DATE: 07/02/2008

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