The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 5 that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) violates current global human rights which include freedoms from gender discrimination and bodily integrity. The Charter of the United Nations states in the preamble that the “United Nations is determined… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person in the equal rights of men and women…” Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, is viewed as a global threat to individual rights and international agreements as well. The United Nations, through UNICEF, UNIFEM, WOMANKIND Worldwide, and other organizations has taken steps towards solving this issue on a small scale by educating women and young girls about the medical effects of FGM in their respected African villages. However, many villagers are skeptical due to cultural beliefs and incorrect information that has fueled FGM as a positive procedure for many years. Recently, a resolution WHA61.16 has been written in May 2008 a the Sixty-First World Health Assembly which aims for the Member States “to accelerate actions towards the elimination of female genital mutilation, including education and information necessary for full understanding of the gender, health and human rights dimensions of female genital mutilation” Similarly, the Regional Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa has passed a resolution urging those governments who participate “to adopt appropriate policies and strategies in order to eradicate female circumcision” and “to forbid medicalization of female circumcision and to discourage health professionals from performing such surgery.” Optimally, FGM has begun to decrease at a very slow rate therefore making it necessary for the nations to create a solution to accelerate the pace to its eradication.
Due to the horrendous effects FGM has taken on women throughout Africa, UNICEF and other NGOs, such as Women for Women International, World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM), Worldwide Organization for Women-Africa (WOW-Africa), and The Inter-African Committee (IAC) on Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children are working together to bring awareness to the topic to places where FGM is highly practiced. 15 million people are circumcised annually, most of them being young women. Direct medical effects such as excruciating pain, shock, hemorrhage, genital ulceration, the increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and death is of great concern to the global community. Emerging campaigns have been successful in raising awareness among the general public, the medical community, and the governing bodies as well as the collective community leaders, specifically the women about the dangers of FGM. Developed nations such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have granted asylums for those women who fear of being subjected to FGM in their home countries. The Council of Europe passed a Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1247 on FGM pushing for governments to take legislative action against FGM, to create plans for education and information about the practice itself. The United Nations aims to have eradications in individual villages which will eventually slow its practice in time.
We, the Democratic Republic of Congo, strongly believe that Female Genital Mutilation should be eradicated as soon as possible. We feel that the medical effects of this procedure are too gruesome to be performed on young girls by the age of 6. Fortunately, under only 5% of girls are being circumcised in DRC therefore we can push for eradication as well as aid our allies to eradicate their country of FGM as well. The Democratic Republic of Congo believes that FGM needs to be targeted on a smaller scale first before elimination occurs altogether. People need to be educated and informed about what FGM really is through the efforts of NGOs, SOCHUM, UNICEF and WHO; many are told incorrect information leading many villagers to believe that FGM promotes good health, enhances fertility, and eases childbirth. The Democratic Republic of Congo also believes that the United Nations should educate the people of the villages through UN volunteers (UNV) who are willing to reverse the myths of FGM that are currently believed. We are aware that an uncircumcised woman is considered to be of “lesser value” than a circumcised woman which can lead to poverty in a family. Many families are forced to choose between socioeconomic survival and bodily mutilation. We strongly believe that we should encourage NGOs and UN agencies like SocHum, WHO, and UNICEF to create a food center where people can obtain adequate food and water for survival which will indirectly lower FGM in general. The Democratic Republic of the Congo also believes that Millennium Goal 3 – Gender Equality should be accomplished as soon as possible. Once gender equality is in order, women will no longer be portrayed as inferior to men. One of the main reasons for FGM is to show that men are dominant over women therefore equality will lead to a decrease in circumcision as well. Recently, a project had been conducted in South Africa which sent 1 million free text messages to mobile phone users reminding them to get checked for HIV/ AIDS. We feel that this can be used to inform the public of FGM as well because as more people are aware of the situation, the more likely it is that this issue will be resolved. We also believe that legislative attempts to stop the practice have met almost no success therefore we encourage developed nations to influence those nations who are currently developing to take a stand on the issue. We respect cultural rituals that are practiced throughout Africa however, there is a fine line where rituals become too inhumane to carry on and we feel that female genital mutilation has greatly violated that line.