Today 6th February, marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The day is celebrated globally as part of the UN’s efforts to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation.
FGM refers to a practice that involves the partial or total removal or alteration of the female genital
organs for non-medical reasons.It results in deep rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of
discrimination against females.
It violates the right to health, physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruelty, inhuman treatment and the right to live where it results in death. Thus, since 2003, the United Nations introduced The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation as an annual awareness day.
Female Genital Mutilation is one of the ancient cultures which has been practiced in Africa and Asia for decades. In Ghana, some parts of the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Brong Ahafo and the Volta Regions including the Zongo Communities in certain urban centers of the country are notable places where the practice still goes on. It is clear that the adoption of this cultural practice of FGM has not served any good purpose in our country. Culture that violates the rights of the people is not worth practicing.
Studies show that an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world today have undergone some form of FGM and two million girls are at risk from the practice each year. Studies also indicate that in Ghana, the prevalence in the 1990s was as high as 77% but reduced drastically due to the advocacy and sensitization that has gone on. It is therefore regrettable that the practice
is still ongoing under cover despite the numerous campaigns and education over the past years.
The current national prevalence is about four percent (4%) but regional prevalence, especially in some parts of Northern, Upper East and West regions could be higher due to some reports on FGM cases in some communities.
To this end, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) join the international community to condemn the practice of female genital mutilation in Ghana. I call on Government,Parliamentarians, Chiefs, Religious Leaders, Traditional Rulers, Civil Society, the Media, the Youth, Faith- Based Organizations, Community- Based Organizations, Men and Women not to
relent on all efforts to end this gruesome act which has no health benefit to women and children.
Let us all speak out and condemn this practice as well as intensify public community- based awareness campaigns against FGM.
We have to understand that ending FGM in Ghana is the responsibility of all and the fight to eradicate it must be addressed through a national crusade from the national to the community levels. All should get involved and act in your own small way towards ending the practice in Ghana.
We as a community of Ghanaians must demonstrate our commitment to protect our women and girls from human rights abuses to eliminate all forms of violence against them. FGM is a key target under the Sustainable Development Goal 5, so the need to consolidate the gains made and intensify the fight.
I urge the law enforcement agencies not to hesitate in prosecuting anyone caught in the act because the law against FGM, ACT 741 of the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana entitled Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2007, provides for imprisonment and/or fines for both the circumciser and those who request, incite or promote excision by providing money, goods or moral support.
The person who commits this offense is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 5 years and not more than 10 years.
The 1992 constitution of Ghana, Article 15 states that ‘the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable’ and that no person shall be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his or her dignity and worth as a human being.
Article 26 (2) prohibits all customary practices that dehumanize or are injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a person’ and Article 28 (3) further states that no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Particularly relevant to FGM, Article 39(2) obliges the state to ensure that traditional practices which are injurious to the health and well-being of the person are abolished.
As we celebrate the day let us remind ourselves that FGM should not be tolerated for any reason,at any time, place or anybody.