End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting by 2030: Invest in Research, and Support in Asia
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According to the United Nations, at least 200 million women in 30 countries have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). However, these statistics are largely restricted to sub-Saharan Africa and ignore the global scope of the issue. In 2016, a UNICEF report finally included Indonesia as a country where FGM/C is practiced. The release of national data from Indonesia raised the total of girls who have undergone FGM/C from 130 million in 29 countries – as estimated in 2014 – to 200 million in 30 countries. Only 10 million of that increase was due to population growth worldwide. In Indonesia alone, half of girls under the age of 11 have gone through FGM/C.
FGM/C has also been reported in India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Maldives, Brunei, Russia (Dagestan), Bangladesh, and Iran and amongst diaspora populations around the world migrating from these countries. Yet, Asian countries fall outside the scope of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme to Accelerate the Abandonment of FGM/C. As a result, FGM/C survivors from this region are overlooked when it comes to resources, data collection efforts, and advocacy support. But how can we advance gender equality and stop all form of gender violence if we are not inclusive of every country where FGM/C is reported?
For Sahiyo, FGM/C isn’t a theoretical issue, it’s personal. We are an advocacy collective of South Asian survivors of FGM/C. With next to no resources and despite the backlash many of us have faced within our own communities, our advocacy work is starting to pay off. In the last year, we have place stories in mainstream publications – like the Guardian and Hindustan Times. In 2015, Sahiyo pursued a small scale study to understand the extent of FGM/C amongst the Dawoodi Bohra Indian community and found that 80% of the women had been cut.
As you can see from the video above, we are more than just overlooked data points, but survivors with agency who are reclaiming our own stories.
In order to sustain the unprecedented momentum that we have built over the last year, we need the United Nations to take the issue of FGM/C in Asia more seriously. We need the international community to invest in rigorous data collection not only to better understand the scope of the problem but also to measure progress. Without reliable baselines, it is difficult to understand whether or not our interventions are working.
We need to reframe FGM/C away from being a “faraway African problem” to recognizing that the problem is a reality for many communities. We know that FGM/C is rooted in controlling female sexuality and is a form of gender violence. It cuts across geography, socioeconomic class, religion, and education. We need the international community, in particular, the United Nations, to broaden the scope of its focus to be more inclusive. And we need foundations and donor countries to invest in survivor-centered approaches working on data collection, advocacy, and survivor support.
Eliminating FGM/C by 2030 is a global target of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - it requires FGM/C prevalence to be measured in every country. To truly end FGM/C by 2030, we need all affected communities, including those in Asia, to be supported.
We, a coalition of civil society organizations, now call on all relevant bodies to actively include India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Maldives, Brunei, Russia (Dagestan) and Bangladesh in all relevant FGM/C campaigns and reports and to commission research on the dynamics of the practice in Asia.
More Videos of Women Sharing their Stories:
- A Pinch of Skin
- Female Genital Mutilation Survivor Tells Her Story
- Underground: American Who Underwent Female Genital Mutilation Comes Forward to Help Others
- Mariya: The Heart
- Love Matters India
- Healthy Tomorrow
- Orchid Project
- Equality Now
- Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation
- Tahirih Justice Center
- Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
- Point of View
- Pastoralist Child Foundation
- Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA)
- The Hands of Hope Foundation
- Dahlia Project
- No FGM Australia
- Chehak Trust (Sahyog)
- The Council for Democracy and Tolerance
- Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
- Blue Veins
- Men UNiTE (Men Against Violence And Abuse Alliance
- Beyond the Hijab
- Dawn Worldwide
- Speak out on FGM
- Keep the Drums, Lose the Knife
- Hawa Trust
- Sanctuary for Families
- Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
- National Federation GAMS
- Women Thrive Alliance
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