(d) Campaigns to change societal norms that drive the practice, and the creation of an enabling and supportive environment for the human rights of women;
(e) Campaigns that delink the practice from religion, and the debunking of social norms, harmful stereotypes and cultural beliefs that perpetuate discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, age and other intersecting factors;
(f) The incorporation of guidelines on female genital mutilation into medical education and training curricula;
(h) Accessible protection mechanisms and services to safeguard girls at risk, including services such as emergency help lines, health care, legal services, counselling and shelter for girls who run away in order to avoid female genital mutilation;
(i) Adequate social and medical services for women and girls and women who are living with female genital mutilation.
States should strengthen efforts to share experiences and good practices, including concerning data-collection tools, methodologies and expertise. Furthermore, States should take the necessary measures to ensure the coherent and consistent harmonization of all relevant legislation and to ensure its primacy over customary, traditional or religious law.
States should incorporate evidence-based training on female genital mutilation into medical, midwifery and nursing curricula so as to improve the diagnosis and management of the practice and to prevent its medicalization.
States should allocate sufficient resources to civil society groups and other partners so as to effectively carry out programmes at the community level to eliminate the practice. This should include the creation of safe spaces in schools and communities where girls and young women can gather and discuss the issues that affect them.
States should ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent cross-border female genital mutilation. States should also make it a criminal offense to perform of or be involved in carrying out the practice abroad, regardless of the nationality or residence status of the perpetrator and even where the victim is not a national or does not have permanent or similar habitual residence of the country, in accordance with the Convention on the Right of the Child.
Political leadership is crucial to address female genital mutilation. Political, religious and community leaders play an important role in speaking out against the practice.
2 World Health Organization (WHO), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, United Nations Development Programme, Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations Population Fund, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children’s Fund and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, Eliminating female genital mutilation: an interagency statement (Geneva, 2008).
3 Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue. Long-term consequence can include recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications and new-born deaths, and the need for later surgeries. See WHO fact sheet No. 241, on female genital mutilation, available from www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/.
4 J. Abdulcadir, M.I. Rodriguez and L. Say, “Research gaps in the care of women with female genital mutilation: an analysis”. BJOG, an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, vol. 122, issue 3 (February 2015).
5 The Human Rights Committee, in its general comment No. 31 (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add. 13), obligates States to protect individuals from acts committed by private persons or entities. In its general recommendation No. 19 (see HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women sets out the responsibilities of States to exercise due diligence, not only in preventing violations, but also in investigating and punishing such acts. Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires States parties to protect children from physical, sexual and mental violence through legislation and other social and educational measures. That obligation includes protection from acts perpetrated by parents or other caregivers. Article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (General Assembly resolution 48/104) explicitly defines female genital mutilation as a form of violence against women and calls upon States to protect women against any form of violence that occurs within the family household or in other environments. The Declaration urges States to condemn violence against women and to refrain from invoking tradition or religion to evade their obligations under international human rights law.
6 In its general comment 2 (CAT/C/GC/2), the Committee against Torture explained that States have an obligations regarding the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment to address the activities, such as female genital mutilation, of private persons or entities. The Committee noted that female genital mutilation violates the physical integrity and human dignity of women and girls and has called on Governments to enact legislation prohibiting the practice, to punish perpetrators and to adopt necessary measures to eradicate it (see, for example, CAT/C/CR/31/6, CAT/C/KEN/CO/1, CAT/C/TGO/CO/1, CAT/C/TCD/CO/1and CAT/C/MRT/CO/1). In his 2008 report (A/HRC/7/3), the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment recognized that, like torture, female genital mutilation involved the deliberate infliction of severe pain and suffering, and considered that it constituted a violation falling within his mandate.
7 According to article 24, paragraph 3, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, States are obliged to take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
8 Medicalization refers to any act of female genital mutilation that is condoned by a State and performed in both public and private hospitals by trained medical personnel. This includes the performance of excisions by health workers and the use of modern medication to relieve pain and fight infection. Trained health professionals who perform female genital mutilation violate the human rights of women and girls. They also violate the fundamental medical ethic to do no harm. See WHO and others, Eliminating female genital mutilation: an interagency statement. In his 2008 report (A/HRC/7/3), the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment made it clear that, even if a law authorizes the practice, any act of female genital mutilation would amount to torture and the existence of the law by itself would constitute consent or acquiescence by the State. Also, in cases where acts of female genital mutilation are performed in private clinics and the physicians who carry out the procedure are not prosecuted, the State de facto consents to the practice and is therefore accountable. Art. 5 (b) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) prohibits, through legislative measures backed by sanctions, all forms of female genital mutilation, scarification, medicalization and para-medicalization of female genital mutilation and all other practices, in order to eradicate them.
9 European Institute for Gender Equality, Good practices in combating female genital mutilation (Luxembourg, 2013).
10 Available from www.unfpa.org/publications/unfpa-unicef-joint-programme-female-genital-mutilationcutting-accelerating-change.
11 http://www.unicef.org/egypt/Eng_FGMC.pdf accessed on 17 February 2015.
12 Human Rights Watch submission.
13 See www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2012/11/escaping-the-scourge-of-female-genital-mutilation-in-tanzania-a-maasai-girls-school-provides-schol#sthash.ooQgGpB2.dpuf.
14 See www.indiegogo.com/projects/girls-education-community-education-in-samburu-and-maasai-mara-kenya.
15 Equality Now submission.
16 See http://plan-international.org/about-plan/resources/blogs/fighting-fgm-progress-hidden-behind-numbers-in-reports.
17 Plan International submission. See http://plan-international.org/where-we-work/africa/egypt/what-we-do/reduction-of-harmful-traditional-practices-htp.
18 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “Implementation of the International and Regional Human Rights Framework for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation” (New York, 2014). Available from www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/FGMC-humanrights.pdf.
19 Human Rights Watch submission.
20 Project Hannah Africa submission.
21 Equality Now submission.
22 Plan International, “Tradition and rights: female genital cutting in West Africa”, 2005. Available from www.plan-uk.org/resources/documents/27624/.
23 See, inter alia, CRC/C/CHE/CO/2-4, CAT/C/DEU/CO/5, A/HRC/22/53 and A/64/272. See also the statement by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, available from http://oii-usa.org/1720/council-of-europes-statement-on-intersex-peoples-need-for-equal-rights.
24 See CRC/C/OPSC/CHE/CO/1.
25 WHO has identified four thematic areas where research is needed to improve clinical management on the basis of significant gaps in the evidence and controversy regarding optimal management: (a) obstetric outcome and post-partum perineal re-education; (b) defibulation outside of pregnancy or labour; (c) clitoral reconstruction; and (d) training, skills and confidence of health care providers. See J. Abdulcadir, M.I. Rodriguez and L. Say, “Research gaps” (see para. 5, footnote 4).