International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation: 6th February

Even in the progressive and modern era, it’s still not an uncommon sight to witness the terrifying things that are done to people just based on their gender. Some of those things are so horrifying and heart-wrenching that it’s even hard to talk about. One of those issues that surprisingly still exists in society even after fighting broadly against it for so long is FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).

As terrible as the name suggests, Female Genital Mutilation is a non-medical procedure, generally performed on girls in their early adolescence, to alter or remove partial or total parts of external genitalia. In most societies, it’s done as a social or religious norm to ensure a girl’s “purity” as a woman. One can see just from the definition of FGM that it is not only a huge violation of women’s human rights but also an immense risk towards women’s physical, mental and sexual health.

According to research done by UNICEF in 2019, at least 200 million girls and women aged 15–49 from 31 countries have been subjected to the practice. This scary human rights violation practice still exists in most countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This dreadful practice has been the highest in the rural and underdeveloped parts of these countries, where people still believe in countless superstitions and refuse to live a life outside of their limited knowledge. But the most alarming part is that even medically authorised health care providers perform this unhealthy and painful surgery these days.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
PHOTO: UNICEF Ethiopia/2019/Tadesse

No scientific research or religious scripts has shown any necessity or significance of this inhuman procedure. However, there have been countless studies and researches on how this practice harms one’s overall health later in life. An article published on the UN website in 2019 states that “Girls and women who undergo FGM often experience long-term health consequences including scarring, cysts, abscesses and other tissue damage, infertility, and increased susceptibility to infections. They may experience difficulty and pain when they menstruate, urinate or have sexual intercourse.”

Not to mention, FGM causes life-threatening childbirth complications as well as a long-lasting adverse effect on the mental health of that said girl or woman. Even many countries with the greatest incidence of FGM also have some of the world’s highest maternal death rates. And psychologically, the horrors and pain little girls have to go through just to fulfil some baseless norms leads most of them to anxiety, depression, memory loss, sleep disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Even after all these ghastly results, FGM has still been a curse upon a huge number of girls living in those said counties. The UN and other social organisations have taken numerous steps, agendas, and projects to work against this malpractice and eradicate it before 2030. But as long as awareness has not been raised among those superstitious as well as other general populace, the eradication of this form of sexual violence might take a lot longer, which only increases the possibility of little children going through this inhuman process of being a “proper woman” just to abide by the so-called social norms.

Such as to raise awareness against and annihilate this baseless, unhygienic and unjust practice, on 6th February, worldwide social and health organisations observe the “International Day Against FGM.” This initiative was first taken by a joint venture of UNICEF and UNFPA. Every year, making agenda to implement a different theme, this initiative is said to uproot this practice by 2030 completely. According to the official website of UNFPA, “This year’s theme is Accelerating Investment to End Female Genital Mutilation — investing in programmes to provide services and response for those affected and those at risk and in developing and enforcing laws and fortifying institutional capacity to address eradicating female genital mutilation.”

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
PHOTO: UNICEF Ethiopia/2020/ Mulugeta Ayene

After all, every day is a different type of struggle in a woman’s life. But still, one specific day to raise awareness and make people and higher authority do something towards an age where little girls do not have to go through this sort of nightmare is something worth commemorating.


  • Prodipta Hasin

    Prodipta Hasin is currently a lit major who spends most of her time overthinking about life and ranting her heart out on her blog. She loves poetry and daydreams about being Hozier's muse. You can find her on Instagram @strangebeautifulsorrowsofhasin trying to express her chaotic and dramatic fears and feelings.

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