According to the UN Human Development Index statistical report, each week close to 40,000 young girls will be subject to FGM. And each day, more than 500 women die of pregnancy complications – a phenomenon that is concentrated in the most impoverished countries. And in each hour, 30 young boys/girls are contracting HIV/AIDS due to unsafe sexual practices. The United Nations International Conference o Population and Development is an attempt to solve some of these pressing humanitarian crises. There are already signs that this conference (held in Cairo in 1994) has been fruitful in bringing about meaningful change. For example, “Of the 28 African countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent, 7 have outlawed the practice over the past five years. Seven countries across the world have acted to make abortion safer by easing legal restrictions on the procedure. In the United States, the rate of unintended teen pregnancies has fallen. Significantly, discussing the specifics of reproductive and sexual health, even in the chambers of some of the world’s most conservative governments, is no longer considered taboo.” (UN Chronicle, 1999, p.74)
But these changes have not translated into meaningful protection and prevention of FGM victims because many advanced nations (the United States included) have not made the $17billion in funding that this project requires. For example, “the United States, has done little to hold up its end of the financial bargain. Some of the more conservative members of Congress have fought hard to undermine government funding for the Cairo initiative. When Congress slashed funding for these programmes in 1996, the 35-per cent cut resulted in 4 million unplanned pregnancies, 1.6 million abortions, 8,000 maternal deaths, and 134,000 infant deaths due to increased high-risk births, according to leading American research organizations.” (Becker, 1999, p.16)
Hence, in conclusion, it is clear that the United States and the United Nations are mostly on opposing sides when it come to protecting FGM victims. It is quite clear that the United Nations is the more sincere of the two in bringing about meaningful improvement to the FGM issue alongside general progress in women’s rights and children’s rights. The United States, on the other hand, has restricted itself to paying lip-service to the cause of women and children without taking any substantive action toward that end. At other times, even the usual rhetoric is missing, as American government officials pursue the interests of private corporations over public well being.
Becker, Barbara. “‘2015 Will Not Come Too Soon’.” UN Chronicle Fall 1999: 16.
Block, Jennifer. “Christian Soldiers on the March: Bush’s Handpicked Delegates Disrupt Global Conferences on Women’s Rights.” The Nation 3 Feb. 2003: 18.
“Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya.” UN Chronicle Fall 1999: 74.
Germain, Adrienne. “Man-Made Threats to Women’s Health.” UN Chronicle Spring 1998: 22+.
Innaiah, Narisetti. “Child Abuse by Religions: Children Must Be Rescued from Religion and Restored to Humanity.” Free Inquiry Summer 2003: 47+.
“The Islamophobia Debate.” New Internationalist July 2007: 21+.
Prescott, James W., Marilyn Fayre Milos, and George C. Denniston. “Circumcision: Human Rights and Ethical Medical Practice.” The Humanist May 1999: 45.