Inter-Parliamentary UnionIPU Logo-top
    Press ReleaseIPU Logo-middle
No.219, Geneva, 3 Februay 2006 IPU Logo-bottom


IPU President Pier Ferdinando Casini, who is also the Speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, has declared that "On 6 February, the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) we, the representatives of the international parliamentary community - a 40,000-strong community of elected parliamentary representatives - are determined to mobilize our efforts, along with traditional and religious leaders, government agencies and non-governmental organizations, so that these practices will be abandoned as quickly as possible".

The President of the world organisation of parliaments recalled that according to the statistics of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on average, a girl or young woman is subjected every 15 seconds to FGM, which causes excruciating pain. Between 100 and 140 million women and girls have undergone excision, infibulation or another form of genital mutilation, not only in Africa, but also in some host countries of African immigration.

Legislators are aware of the devastating impact of FGM and its harmful and irreversible effects, which can sometimes be fatal. They know that the victims of this violation of human rights and of the rights of the child are subject to physical, psychological and social repercussions. At a regional parliamentary conference on violence against women and abandoning FGM organized by the Senegalese National Assembly, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the African Parliamentary Union and UNICEF in December, the participants adopted a resolution reiterating their commitment as parliamentarians to halting this practice.

The abandonment of FGM, handed down from generation to generation owing to social dynamics that impose the views of others on families when they make certain choices, is a challenge that can and must be met. Elected representatives are aware of this, and have insisted that men and women must be kept informed of any laws relating to FGM. Action aimed at abandoning excision must be carried out in consultation with all actors in civil society, including traditional chiefs, parliamentarians and those who shape public opinion, as part of a broader strategy involving literacy, development, poverty reduction and respect for human rights.

FGM has no basis in religion. According to Dr. Gamal Abou El Sorour, the Director of the Islamic Centre for Population Research and Studies at the renowned Al-Azhar University and an authoritative source on religion in the Islamic world, "When we look at the primary source of sharia, the Koran, we find no mention of female genital mutilation, be it explicit or implicit".

For Mr. Mélégué Traoré, a deputy and former President of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso and a respected traditional chief, FGM is a social question "that calls for the intervention of influential people likely to have some sway at the grass-roots level, but who also have the authority to influence decisions. The role of parliamentarians is therefore crucial". He went on to say that "we are in now way abandoning African culture when we abandon FGM".

Mrs. Aminata Mbengue Ndiaye, a deputy and former Senegalese Minister for the Condition of Women, added that "many parliamentarians have said they are afraid to address these questions with those who sent them to the Assembly. But I believe this problem will persist as long as members of parliament do not take the bull by the horns. Broaching this topic with our constituents is an act of courage. Even if it means losing your mandate, it is time to speak the language of truth".

Established in 1889 and with its Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the IPU, the oldest multilateral political organisation, currently brings together 143 affiliated parliaments and seven regional assemblies as associate members. The world organisation of parliaments has an Office in New York, which acts as its Permanent Observer at the United Nations.
Other press releases Version française de ce communiqué de presse More information

Contact for additional information or interviews:
In Geneva: Mrs. Luisa Ballin, IPU Information Officer
5, ch. du Pommier, CH - 1218 Le Grand-Saconnex / Geneva
Phone: +41 22 919 41 16
Fax: +41 22 919 41 60
E-mail: or

Mrs. Kareen Jabre, Programme Manager, IPU Programme for the Promotion of Partnership between Men and Women.
Phone: +41 22 919 41 25
Fax: +41 22 919 41 60