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Faith leaders key in fight v FGM says international charity

Using the influence of religious leaders, coupled with governments’ support, would boost efforts to end the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), World Vision experts say.

As the world marks International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM today (Tuesday, February 6), the international children’s charity warns that the global figure of women and girls subjected to the practice keeps rising.

Tracy Shields, World Vision UK’s Child Protection Programme Adviser (pictured), said: “When we fail to engage faith leaders, we limit the effectiveness of efforts to end harmful traditional practices like FGM.

“By working alongside faith and community leaders in countries like Kenya and Sierra Leone, World Vision has seen a huge shift. In some societies, FGM has continued because there is a perception that this is a religious requirement, and that is wrong.

"Communities listen to their faith leaders – whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or traditional. It’s so vital that we work with them to best meet the needs of millions of girls at risk, and women and girls who have been through FGM. What is crucial, is for governments to actively support these efforts too,” she explained.

An alternative 'rights of passage' ceremony held
in Kenya last year

It is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM, according to the UN.

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is an opportunity to speak out on behalf of those who have undergone the dangerous and brutal procedure.

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