It is an excruciatingly painful practice that denies girls their basic human rights.
Its impact on young girls and women is multi-faceted and touches various aspects of their lives, including their physical, psychological and social well-being, with scars lingering on for the rest of their lives.
The African Union has adopted legally binding instruments that promote the prohibition of traditional practices that are prejudicial to the health and welfare of young girls and women.
Among others, Article 21 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child obliges States Parties to eliminate harmful social and cultural practices, such as FGM, that affect the welfare, dignity, normal growth and development of the child.
In addition, Article 5 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ ‘Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) explicitly requires States Parties to prohibit and condemn all forms of harmful practices, such as FGM, which negatively affect the human rights of women and to take all necessary legislative and other measures to eliminate such practices.
On this International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the African Union AU) wishes to call on all its Member States to take concrete action to eliminate FGM and to protect young girls and women against violation of their fundamental rights.
The AU also wishes to encourage Member States who are yet to ratify the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child as well as the Maputo Protocol to do so, especially during this year of African Human Rights Focusing on The Rights of Women.
Member States are also encouraged to domesticate, implement and monitor the observance of commitments related to the prohibition of harmful cultural practices such as FGM and to provide positive cultural environments for women and girls to live violence free lives.
The AU wishes to congratulate the Republic of The Gambia for the bold step it has taken in 2015 to finally abolish FGM and for developing regulations and comprehensive programmes for the enforcement of the Women’s Amendment Act of 2015.