The 6th of February 2013 marks the tenth commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, which is observed each year to raise awareness about this practice. Zero Tolerance Day originated on 6/2/2003, when the first lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, officially declared “Zero Tolerance to FGM” in Africa.
Female genital mutilation of any type has been recognized as a harmful practice and violation of the human rights of girls and women. Currently, FGM affects about 150 million girls and women, and more than 2 million girls are at risk every year. Around 5,500 women undergo genital mutilation every day. It affects women mainly in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, but also in Western countries. Increasingly, governments, media, NGOs and community leaders are speaking out against this harmful traditional practice. In the past year, legislation was passed in Guinea-Bissau and Iraqi Kurdistan outlawing the practice.
In Europe, AWEPA works toward an increased and stronger coordination between African and European Parliamentarians on the issue of FGM. Furthermore, several parliamentary initiatives involving AWEPA members have taken place since 2010.
This year, the Dutch AWEPA Section is linking up to the international conference organized by Platform 6/2 and Kenniscentrum Pharos (with members of several civil society organisations) on abandoning FMG/C in the Netherlands and abroad. This event will be chaired by Hon. Désirée Bonis, Head of the Dutch AWEPA Section, and will take place in the city of Leiden on 6 February 2013.
Meanwhile, members of the AWEPA Section in the Austrian Parliament are calling for far-reaching measures and actions in the fight against FGM and violence against women and girls around the world. They have introduced a resolution against FGM.
Hon. Petra Bayr, Head of the Austrian AWEPA Section, is also Spokesperson of the platform stop FGM (the main platform against female genital mutilation in Austria). Hon. Bayr pointed out that currently 30 organizations and 1,200 individuals support stopFGM. “Evidence shows that numbers go down due to the efforts of many.” Nevertheless, in Austria there are “about 25 asylum-documented cases where female genital mutilation (FGM) is carried out or threatens to be pursued”, said Hon. Bayr.
AWEPA’s support to such initiatives is part of the programme called “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Programme”
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