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Female genital mutilation – Abolish this cruel practice as soon as possible, urges Terzi

A new impetus for the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), the aim being a worldwide ban in the shortest time possible. This is Italy’s goal in promoting a two-day conference at the Farnesina on policies to combat a practice of which 140 million girls worldwide are victims. A practice that affects not just Africa but Europe and Italy too.

28 years of battles

The event, organised by Non c’è pace senza giustizia, a non-governmental organisation, was attended by around 70 delegations from numerous African countries, activists and representatives of civil society. It opened with a minute of silence proposed by Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Marta Dassù, “for the victims of this violence”. The starting point was the important success achieved in December 2012 at the United Nations, which adopted a Resolution – co-sponsored by Italy – to ban genital mutilation.

The next step will be to fully implement this document, and thus win a battle that has so far lasted 28 years, noted Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi. He warned that “we cannot let another 28 years go by before this practice is cancelled from the face of the earth”.

Keeping up the international commitment

From Labour Minister Elsa Fornero to the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Chantal Compaoré, from Under-Secretary Dassù to the Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Emma Bonino, an unanimous call went out: to keep up the international commitment on this front. Minister Fornero called for “new forms of support to help women and families, in Italy too, give up this practice. Active support – both direct, through recourse to the appropriate services, and indirect, by disseminating information and promoting awareness-raising initiatives”.

“Encouraging” results, commented Terzi

Many obstacles still remain but the results obtained thus far are encouraging, underscored Terzi. The number of countries halting FMG is growing: 9775 communities, from 15 countries, in 2012, thanks to the UNFPA/UNICEF programme to which Italy also provides funding. Indeed, our country is currently approving new funds worth 1.5 million for 2013.

However, the practice remains widespread and so the pace of intervention must be stepped up, agreed the participants at the event. In the concluding document they agreed to:

– publicise the UN Resolution and ensure that it is applied effectively;

– implement and strengthen political and legislative measures on the issue at the national, regional and international levels;

– consolidate and build on regional and international cooperation to provide a more effective response to the continuation of the practice.

Next date: March 2013, in New York

The next date in the campaign is for March, in New York, with the meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The priority theme for discussion will be the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. For that occasion, Italy will organise – as it did last year – an awareness-raising initiative on the issue of genital mutilation.