The UN v FGM

Michael DeDora reports one bit of good news.

In a landmark move welcomed by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the United Nations General Assembly has adopted for the first time a resolution calling for a global end to female genital mutilation.

The measure, A/67/450 A/C.3/67/L.21, calls female genital mutilation, or FGM, “an irreparable, irreversible abuse that impacts negatively on the human rights of women and girls” and “a harmful practice that constitutes a serious threat to the health of women and girls.”

Oyyyy. Couldn’t they have just said “damages”? What is this “impacts negatively” crap? I assume people made “impact” into a verb to save time/words in the first place, but now we’re always getting “will negatively impact” when we could just have “will damage,” so clearly the laudable stab at efficiency has backfired, and clarity has been negatively impacted at the same time.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was the the UN has called for an end to FGM, and that’s good.

The measure’s approval certainly sends a strong political message to governments, as well as one of hope to millions of women and girls. However, as noted by UN Women Assistant-Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director John Hendra, it is now extremely important that the UN and its member states work to implement and support the ideas outlined in the resolution.

“This is a very important step to bringing about cultural and attitudinal change,” said Hendra. “Just as important though, is working on the ground with governments, communities and other partners to end FGM. … while efforts to criminalize FGM are vital, they need to be backed up with services for victims, engaging key influencers and supporting community-based activities to change social norms, as well as practical actions to bring perpetrators to justice.”

No faffing around with re-naming it “cutting” or “surgery,” I’m pleased to see.



  1. says

    In before “but what about Male Genital Mutilation?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??”

    Good job. It’s a great start. There’s much more to do, of course, but this is a very, very happy start.

  2. says

    These days we can just point them to the many places where we have been condemning Male Genital Mutilation. That German court opened the door, and I have no problem at all saying that too should stop (except in the case of adult males who choose it).

  3. says

    Absolutely spot on, Ophelia, as usual. I just wanted to get that in before the off-topic “But What About Teh Menz?!?!?!?!?” trolls showed up… 😀

    And I also agree about the choice. It should absolutely be a choice for fully mature adult to make.

  4. A. Noyd says

    A bit off topic, but reading your OP I was struck by the parallels between the all-consuming fear of unmutilated genitals that men have in cultures practicing FGM and the obsessive fear men have in Western cultures of transwomen’s genitals. To qualify for even the demeaning role of sex object, women have to have just the right arrangement of flesh under our skirts.

  5. Michael De Dora says

    One minor correction on my part. I believe the specific resolution relating to FGM is not A/67/450, but A/C.3/67/L.21, the latest version of which can be found here:

    A/67/450 is the broader draft resolution on the advancement of women of which A/C.3/67/L.21 is a part.

    My apologies for that, but the UN makes this stuff very difficult to figure out.

  6. says

    Yes, the ambiguity of “impacts negatively” puts a slight questionable damper on the otherwise terrific news. It’ll surely take a long time for ‘attitudinal changes’ to come about in countries where this deplorable practice goes on. OB – you’ve been writing about this ghastly stuff for years, so it is obviously sweet music to the ears.

  7. Michael Payton says

    This is excellent news. I great step forward on an important issue.

    I would be interested to hear the reaction from Islamic and Arab Nations to this bit of news. Where any representatives from those regions placed in consultation for this ruling or do we know what the reaction will be?

  8. iknklast says

    I gotta get some sleep. I read the headline as “UN vs. FSM” and couldn’t figure out for a minute why you said that was a good thing…or why the UN cared about flying pasta.

  9. Rodney Nelson says

    UN Women Assistant-Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director John Hendra

    Why is this person a man?

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