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UN panel urges countries to ban female genital mutilation

The Third Committee [official website] of the UN General Assembly on Monday approved a resolution [press release] calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation (FGM). The committee's resolution calls on the UN's 193 member countries to enact and enforce legislation to protect women and girls from female circumcision and other genital mutilation procedures and to end impunity for violators. The resolution recognized "that female genital mutilations were an irreparable, irreversible abuse of the human rights of woman and girls, as well as a threat to their health." The resolution would also designate February 6 as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The resolution will be considered [AP report] by the wider UN General Assembly in December, and with the support of 110 sponsors, approval of the resolution is expected.

As many as 140 million women and girls worldwide have undergone some form of FGM, which is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) [official website] as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons." In February the UN released its annual report on trends in FGM, revealing that approximately 2,000 African communities have renounced the practice [JURIST report] since last year. In 2010 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] called on the government of Iraqi Kurdistan [JURIST report] to outlaw FGM and to develop a comprehensive legislative plan to reduce the practice in the region. In 2009 Uganda unanimously outlawed FGM [JURIST report] and imposed harsh penalties on anyone who conducts the procedure.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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