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UN rights chief calls for end to female genital mutilation

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Monday called for intensive efforts [press release] to address the issue of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) [UNFPA backgrounder; JURIST news archive], calling the practice a form of gender-based discrimination that violated the right to be free from torture. Pillay stressed [UN News Centre report] that FGM/C causes severe pain as well as both short and long term health consequences without providing any health benefits. Although economic factors can contribute greatly to the persistence of the practice, Pillay stated that the eradication of FGM/C would lead to healthier communities and that, with women better able to develop their talents and skills, economic, social and political progress could be made. The high-level panel discussion [text] aimed to provide an exchange on the progress that has been made in combating FGM/C and identify the best practices for and challenges to eradicating it.

UN officials in February called for an end [JURIST report] to female genital mutilation and cutting, with the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) [official website] calling it an affront to human dignity and an unacceptable continuing human rights violation. In July UNICEF [official website] released a comprehensive new report revealing that FGM/C is on the decline [JURIST report] around the world. The report indicates that as many as 125 million women and girls worldwide have undergone some form of FGM/C. The UNFPA and UNICEF reported in February that significant progress has been made [JURIST report] in ending the practice of FGM/C but called upon the international community to do more to end the practice. In November 2012 a UN panel urged countries to ban [JURIST reports] FGM/C. In February 2012 the UN reported [JURIST report] similar progress in ending the practice. In 2010 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] called on the government of Iraqi Kurdistan [JURIST report] to outlaw female FGM/C. Uganda [JURIST report] joined the movement against FGM/C in 2009 by outlawing it, although it is still practiced there.

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