International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation—UniCamillus promoter of Prof. Morrone’s conference to address the issue from a cultural perspective

Mutilazione degli organi genitali femminili

UniCamillus is at the forefront in combating all forms of gender-based violence. Among these, one of the most heinous is undoubtedly the mutilation of female genital organs, of which many women, especially young ones, are still victims. For this reason, on the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on 6th February 2024, our University will be one of the promoters of the conference Female Genital Mutilation and Gender-Based Violence: From Stalking to Femicide. Restoring Dignity and Health to Women Between North and South of the World.

The event will take place at the Cosimo Piccinno Auditorium, Ministry of Health, Lungotevere Ripa. The organizer of the event is Professor Aldo Morrone, scientific director of the International Institute of Medical, Anthropological and Social Sciences, who commented on the importance of addressing this issue: “The fight against female genital mutilation cannot ignore a more in-depth understanding of the entire cultural context that surrounds it. In many cases, there are religious and social constraints that must be understood before this phenomenon is eradicated. Doctors and healthcare professionals need to be prepared to handle these situations, to engage in dialogue and welcome those who are victims of this type of physical violation. The only way to do this is to spread awareness of these phenomena as much as possible”.

The concept of female genital mutilation broadly refers to all procedures involving the removal—total or partial—of external female genital organs. These practices have no medical scientific value or justification and, in most cases, are carried out in poor or completely absent hygienic conditions, with evident consequences for the physical and mental health of women, both in the short and long term. Cultural motivations rooted in the past largely underlie this abuse of the female body. While originating mostly in parts of Africa and the Middle East, as well as in isolated areas of South America, historical population movements, including current migration phenomena, have led to the perpetration of female genital mutilation worldwide. Depending on the type and context, FGM takes on the characteristics of a rite of passage, a prerequisite for marriage, or, in other cases, an identity symbol imposed by men on women in their respective communities. These practices are recognized as acts of extreme misogyny in patriarchal societies that degrade women’s bodies, and for this reason the United Nations General Assembly, through Resolution 67/146 of 2012, expressed zero tolerance for any form of FGM, establishing February 6th as the international day for awareness on this issue.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 68 million girls and young women worldwide are at risk of undergoing this violation of their rights and physical integrity. The purpose of the conference is to contribute to spreading a clear message in the fight against these practices: in order to stop FGM, systematic and coordinated efforts are necessary. More cultural, clinical scientific initiatives, as well as targeted political actions are needed for a more efficient and widespread protection of human rights.

“Anyone who has the opportunity to contribute to ending these horrible atrocities against women’s bodies”, said UniCamillus Rector Gianni Profita, “has a moral duty to do so. That’s why I’m proud to say that our University firmly and actively supports events like the one scheduled for February 6th. Any anti-FGM action cannot ignore an awareness of the reality of the facts. Because there is still little awareness of how widespread this scourge is, it is absolutely essential for the medical and scientific community to work towards making people understand the severity of the problem and how urgently FGM needs to be addressed”.