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6 February: International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

On the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, Italy has reasserted its strong commitment to combating any form of violence against women and girls. This is a priority action of our current mandate in the UN Human Rights Council (2019- 2021).

According to the figures contained in the very recent Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration on women’s rights, and the related Platform for Action, over the last decade at least 200 million women and girls have suffered genital mutilations. Within 2030, more than one third of girls worldwide will be born in regions where this despicable practice is still performed, which means that at least 68 million girls will be at risk.

These figures, although declining are nevertheless still alarming and confirm the need to further strengthen the global commitment to eliminate these odious forms of violence on girls and young women altogether, because of their extremely serious, unacceptable and irreversible consequences on the physical and psychological development of those who suffer them. Allowing girls and young women to be scarred by this barbaric violation means also allowing the violation of their most fundamental rights and jeopardising the possibility of building and developing a vital and precious part of the societies in which it is practised. Female genital mutilation is a serious obstacle to female empowerment and, consequently, to the sustainable development and economic growth of the societies in which it is allowed or even only tolerated.

Italy is at the very forefront in the international campaign against female genital mutilation, and is active in the international organisations, bilateral relations with the interested Countries and on the ground, through the Italian Cooperation projects. We actively participate in the UN-sponsored negotiations – in both the General Assembly in New York and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva – for passing resolution on female genital mutilation, also taking on the role of negotiator on behalf of the European Union. Internationally, the Italian legislation on the prevention and prohibition of female genital mutilation practices is viewed as a good practice in combating this form of violence, and we are among the major donor Countries engaged on this front.

We share our commitment with the civil society and all the Institutions involved, convinced as we are that the winning approach to successfully eradicate this phenomenon should include all sectors and players, across the board, focusing on the link that exists between female genital mutilation, gender inequality and violence against women. Being firmly convinced that it is not enough to simply prohibit or penalise certain practices while they are still socially accepted or tolerated, we strive to promote integrated policies that also include raising awareness in and responsibilising the Countries and local communities most affected by this practice.

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