[JURIST] UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] on Tuesday announced [press release] plans to enact new laws that will protect girls from the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) [WHO backgrounder], procedures that intentionally alter or injure the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. The practice is often motivated by cultural, religious or social factors. Cameron made the announcement at Girl Summit 2014 [event website], an event hosted by the British government and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) [official website], aimed at mobilizing Britain and the international community to bring an end to FGM and child and forced marriage (CFM) “within a generation.” More than 50 countries were represented at the summit. Cameron’s speech imparted current statistics on the global prevalence of FGM and CFM—130 million women affected by FGM with another 63 million at risk by 2050 and 700 million children victims of CFM with another 280 million at risk. The new legislation will include a mandate that certain professionals, such as teachers and doctors, report known incidents of FGM and CFM, that parents who allow their daughters to undergo FGM will be criminally prosecuted and an imperative to grant FGM victims lifelong anonymity from the time an allegation is made. Cameron promised 1.4 million pounds nationally to fund a prevention program “to help care for survivors and safeguard those at risk” and another 60 million pounds to assist with similar international efforts. During the event, 21 countries signed an international charter calling for the global eradication of FGM and CFM.
Of the issues addressed at the summit, attention to the practice of FGM has intensified internationally over the past decade. The UN has consistently campaigned [JURIST news archive] for an end to FGM labeling the practice, among other things, gender-based discrimination, torture, an affront to human dignity and an irreparable, irreversible abuse of the human rights of women and girls. In July 2013 noting the continued pervasiveness of FGM, UNICEF reported [JURIST report] a world-wide decline in the practice due to multiple campaigns intended to educate parents on the emotional and physical health risks associated with the procedure and its aftermath. In February 2012 the UN reported [JURIST report] progress in combating FGM, stating that approximately 2,000 African communities had renounced the practice during the previous year. In December 2009 Uganda outlawed [JURIST report] FGM. However, the majority of FGM procedures occur in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan.