UN report urges concerted global action to tackle cross-border and transnational female genital mutilation


The global fight against female genital mutilation is being undermined by the practice of crossing national borders and beyond to have girls undergo the procedure, a new report from the UN Human Rights Office warns.

Although many States have intensified their efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice continues across the world, in part due to “the clandestine nature of cross-border and transnational FGM,” the report says.

“Female genital mutilation is part of a continuum of gender-based violence and has no place in a human rights-respecting universe,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk. “It must be eliminated in all of its forms, and the gender stereotypes and patriarchal norms that anchor and perpetuate it uprooted.”

Based on in-depth desk research and submissions from States and civil society organisations around the world, the report notes that an estimated 4.3 million girls were at risk of being subjected to FGM in 2023. More than 600,000 women in the European Union are thought to be living with the consequences of FGM.

So-called “vacation cutting” is when families, particularly in Europe and North America, take their daughters to their countries and communities of origin to undergo FGM during school holidays.

In certain cases, girls are reportedly taken to countries that serve as “transnational FGM hubs”. The report also says that in some cases, it is the “cutters” that move across borders to carry out the harmful procedure.

The report identifies cross-border and transnational movements for the purposes of FGM, around the world. Girls and young women living in border communities are particularly vulnerable given border areas often host communities with cultural and ethnic ties that transcend national borders, the report says.

“States around the globe have made human rights commitments to eradicate FGM and to advance gender equality,” said Türk. “They should ensure a joined-up global approach that addresses the root causes and the consequences of FGM, by among others harmonising their legal and policy frameworks and ensuring their implementation, if they are to truly meet their commitments to end this harmful practice everywhere.”

The report urges States to embrace regional and international cooperation in their efforts to eradicate the practice, for example by allocating adequate resources towards the establishment and implementation of regional policy frameworks and cooperation agreements to prevent and address cross-border and transnational female genital mutilation, and to support survivors. It also calls on States to ensure there are effective prevention measures in place – designed in consultation with survivors and relevant civil society organisations in partnership with affected communities, religious and traditional leaders.

To read the full report, click here https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/thematic-reports/ahrc5629-cross-border-and-transnational-female-genital-mutilation-report

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