ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Raising awareness and calling for the elimination of female genital mutilation were focuses of International Day of Zero Tolerance Monday, organizers said.
The objective was of the observance is to draw international attention to efforts needed to free women and girls from genital mutilation, and to hasten elimination of the practice by 2015, set by the U.N.-backed Millennium Development Goals, the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said in a release.
Female genital mutilation refers to any practice involving the partial or total removal or alteration of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The committee said a conservative estimate indicates about 2 million women and girls are subjected to female genital mutilation worldwide.
Studies have shown a correlation between female genital mutilation and the high infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates in African countries where the tradition is practiced, the committee said. Also, there is clinical evidence that female genital mutilation poses a serious risk in the transmission of HIV/AIDS, especially when practiced as an initiation rite and the same instruments are used on many girls at the same time.