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Joint Statement HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON PREVENTION OF AND RESPONSE TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (HRC res. 44/16)

STATEMENT


High-level panel discussion on the multisectoral prevention of and response, including the global response, to female genital mutilation (HRC res. 44/16)
Accelerating Change on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.

Egypt and Burkina Faso have the honour to deliver this statement
on behalf of more than 100 countries, UNFPA and UNICEF.

23 June 2021


FGM is a violation of human rights adversely affecting women and girls psychologically and physically, and governments and civil society must work together to accelerate the elimination of this practice. We strongly agree that FGM is a harmful practice and cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds.


The harmful and dangerous impact of FGM on the health of young girls is well proven, as well as the health risks to women’s health throughout their life course, including their mental, sexual and reproductive health. It is estimated that treatment of the health complications of FGM costs health systems 1.4 billion USD1 per year.

Eliminating FGM will have a positive impact not only on health, education and gender equality but also on the empowerment and full development of women and girls and of society as a whole.


We recognize the increased national, regional and international efforts and the political commitments at the highest levels, including in the 2019 Ouagadougou call to action on eliminating FGM and the 2019 Cairo call to action for the elimination of child marriage and FGM in Africa.


Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned that the progress in reducing the prevalence of FGM has not been up to the expectations, and we are concerned about evidence2 in some regions suggesting an increasing involvement of health-care providers in carrying out female genital mutilation, in addition to the emerging cross-border practices. Review of the evidence on FGM medicalization shows that there are multiple reasons why health-care providers perform FGM: they are members of practicing communities subject to the same social norms; they are responding to a demand; they believe they are causing less harm than other practitioners; and there is a financial incentive.


Raising awareness on the adverse health consequences of FGM alone will not end the practice, and if this information is not communicated sensitively it can promote medicalization of FGM, on both the demand and supply sides. Moreover, there is no evidence that medicalizing FGM reduces immediate or long-term complications associated with the practice.

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1. https://www.who.int/news/item/06-02-2020-economic-cost-of-female-genital-mutilation

2. https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-017-0306-5

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We therefore call on all stake holders to stop medicalization of FGM, which is an impediment to the abandonment of FGM with actions aligned with the Global Strategy to stop health-care providers from performing FGM.


We believe in the utmost importance of strengthening the understanding and knowledge of ministries of health, health-care providers and their professional associations and unions, as agents of change for ending FGM through different initiatives, including through the following:


● Establishing health policies and protocols advocating for the elimination of FGM whether performed in community or medicalized settings.


● Incorporating, more systematically, content on FGM prevention and management of health complications, in the curricula of health-care, education and training institutions.


● Empowering and enabling health-care workers to be agents of change in communicating against FGM in their interactions with their colleagues, patients, families, and communities.


● Strengthening coordination between legal and health systems, health regulatory bodies and health-care personnel in order to enforce the health professional code of conduct and country laws against this practice.


● Creating networks between professional associations and unions of health-care service providers and religious leaders to clarify that FGM is not a religious practice.


● Improving person-centered communication skills of health-care professionals to deal with social pressures from the communities seeking to continue with FGM and to challenge the harmful social norms perpetuating the practice.


● Reinforcing the unethical nature of the medicalization of FGM by issuing public statements and protocols, establishing codes of conduct and instituting accountability mechanisms to hold health-care providers accountable to their oath to do no harm and sanction wrongdoers.


● In addition to legal and administrative protection, empowering and enabling other forms of accountability mechanisms, such as parliamentary groups, National Human Rights Institutions and social accountability mechanisms to monitor and report on government efforts to eliminate the medicalization of FGM.


● Establishing and strengthening monitoring systems, including administrative data collection to track medicalization of FGM.
__________
List of Countries
1. Afghanistan
2. Albania
3. Algeria
4. Andorra
5. Angola
6. Argentina
7. Australia
8. Austria
9. Azerbaijan
10. Bahrain
11. Bangladesh
12. Belgium
13. Benin
14. Bolivia
15. Botswana
16. Brazil
17. Burkina Faso
18. Burundi
19. Cameroon
20. Canada
21. Cape Verde
22. The Central African Republic
23. Chad
24. Chile
25. China
26. Comoros
27. Costa rica
28. The Congo
29. The Democratic Republic of Congo
30. Cote d’ivoire
31. Croatia
32. Cuba
33. Czech Republic
34. Cyprus
35. Denmark
36. Djibouti
37. Ecuador
38. Egypt
39. Equatorial Guinea
40. Eritrea
41. Estonia
42. Eswatini
43. Ethiopia
44. Finland
45. France
46. Gabon
47. The Gambia
48. Germany
49. Ghana
50. Greece
51. Guinea
52. Guinea Bissau
53. Guyana
54. Hungary
55. Iceland
56. India
57. Indonesia
58. Iran
59. Iraq
60. Ireland
61. Israel
62. Italy
63. Jamaica
64. Japan
65. Jordan
66. Kazakhstan
67. Kenya
68. Kuwait
69. Kyrgyzstan
70. Latvia
71. Lebanon
72. Lesotho
73. Liberia
74. Libya
75. Lithuania
76. Luxembourg
77. Madagascar
78. Malawi
79. Malaysia
80. Maldives
81. Mali
82. Malta
83. Mauritania
84. Mauritius
85. Moldova
86. Morocco
87. Mozambique
88. Namibia
89. Netherlands
90. New Zealand
91. Niger
92. Nigeria
93. Norway
94. Oman
95. Pakistan
96. Panama
97. Paraguay
98. Poland
99. Portugal
100. Qatar
101. Romania
102. Rwanda
103. Sao Tome and Principe
104. Saudi Arabia
105. Senegal
106. Seychelles
107. Sierra leone
108. Slovakia
109. Slovenia
110. Somalia
111. South Africa
112. South Sudan
113. Spain
114. Sri lanka
115. Sudan
116. Suriname
117. Sweden
118. Switzerland
119. Syria
120. Tajikistan
121. Tanzania
122. Togo
123. Tunisia
124. Turkey
125. Turkmenistan
126. Uganda
127. Uruguay
128. United Arab Emirates
129. United Kingdom
130. United States of America
131. Uzbekistan
132. Venezuela
133. Yemen
134. Zambia
135. Zimbabwe
136. The State of Palestine