UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Thursday called for ending female genital mutilation, a harmful practice that threatens millions of girls worldwide.
In his message on the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), which annually falls on Feb 6, Ban urged a complete end to the practice to ensure the "dignity, health and well-being" of every girl, Xinhua reported. "Just because a harmful practice has long existed does not justify its continuation. All 'traditions' that demean, dehumanise and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended," said Ban.
He noted that there is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman.
Since 2008, nearly 10,000 communities in 15 countries, representing about eight million people, have renounced FGM/C.
In December 2012, a UN General Assembly resolution called on member states to intensify efforts toward the complete elimination of the practice. In addition, some 1,775 communities across Africa publicly declared their commitment to end the practice in 2012.
Although progress has been achieved in recent years, it is estimated that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where FGM/C is most prevalent.