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Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2016 Nov; 128(5):958-963.Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons. Health care providers for women and girls living with female genital mutilation have reported difficulties in recognizing, classifying, and recording female genital mutilation, which can adversely affect treatment of complications and discussions of the prevention of the practice in future generations. According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation is classified into four types, subdivided into subtypes. An agreed-upon classification of female genital mutilation is important for clinical practice, management, recording, and reporting, as well as for research on prevalence, trends, and consequences of female genital mutilation. We provide a visual reference and learning tool for health care professionals. The tool can be consulted by caregivers when unsure on the type of female genital mutilation diagnosed and used for training and surveys for monitoring the prevalence of female genital mutilation types and subtypes.
New York, New York, United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA], 2012.  p.This report is a call to decision-makers, parents, communities and to the world to end child marriage. It documents the current scope, prevalence and inequities associated with child marriage. The document argues that child marriage jeopardizes girls' rights and stands in the way of girls living educated, healthy and productive lives. Furthermore, early marriage also excludes girls from fundamental decisions, such as the timing of marriage and choice of spouse. Early marriage also put girls more at risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. The author argues that social norms that legitimize early marriage need to change in order for there to be any real improvement, and in order to help countries reach the Millennium Development Goals.
[Geneva, Switzerland], United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2002. 5 p. (E/CN.4/RES/2002/52)Reaffirming that discrimination on the basis of sex is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international human rights instruments, and that its elimination is an integral part of efforts towards the elimination of violence against women. Reaffirming the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted in June 1993 by the World Conference on Human Rights (A/CONF.157/23) and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993. Recalling all its previous resolutions on the elimination of violence against women, in particular its resolution 1994/45 of 4 March 1994, in which it decided to appoint a special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Noting all General Assembly resolutions relevant to elimination of violence against women. Welcoming the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted in September 1995 by the Fourth World Conference on Women (A/CONF.177/20, chap. I), follow-up action by the Commission on the Status of Women on violence against women and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century". (excerpt)
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2007 Oct; 85(10):740-741.Indonesia's maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in south-east Asia. One East Java district has introduced a novel scheme to reduce those deaths. In many rural areas of Indonesia, traditional ways of delivering babies remain popular. For example, in Ugaikagopa in the country's east, traditional healers take the pregnant woman to the middle of the forest to deliver the baby. They may use fibres taken from bamboo to cut the umbilical cord and wipe the newborns' bodies with guava leaves. The instruments used are not sterile and can lead to infection. The traditional healer, or dukun in Indonesian language or Bahasa, may not be able to deal with complications during labour, and by the time the mother gets to a local clinic it may be too late. As a result, maternal mortality in Indonesia is high compared to most south-east Asian countries. In 2005, there were an estimated 262 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, compared with 39 per 100 000 in Malaysia and 6 per 100 000 in Singapore. Figures for Papua province from 2003 show even higher death rates: 396 per 100 000 live births. (excerpt)
African Human Rights Law Journal. 2005; 5(1):171-181.The adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child strengthened the protection of the rights of children. Although Kenya has ratified both instruments and enacted the Children's Act, all instruments prohibiting practices that are prejudicial to the rights of children, circumcision of the boy-child for purely cultural reasons still takes place in the country, sometimes with severe consequences, such as deaths. This article demonstrates that the circumcision of non-consenting boys under the age of 18 violates their basic human rights, particularly the right not to be discriminated against, the right to health, the right to privacy and bodily integrity, and the right not to be subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment. The article concludes that the human rights implications stemming from male circumcision necessitate positive action against this practice by the government. (author's)
The convention on the rights of the child and the cultural legitimacy of children's rights in Africa: Some reflections.
African Human Rights Law Journal. 2005; 5(2):221-238.The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been almost universally ratified. The author argues that its implementation depends to a large extent on the level of cultural legitimacy accorded to children's rights norms in a society. In Africa, children are seen as a valuable part of society. Despite this, cultural practices that are detrimental to children exist, such as female genital mutilation and inappropriate initiation rites. The Convention is underpinned by four principles: non-discrimination, participation, survival and development and the best interests of the child. Each of these principles can come into conflict with cultural practices. However, culture is not static and harmful practices can be overcome. This requires that the reasons for the existence of a practice are clearly understood, that solutions are found in consultation with practising communities and that adequate social support is given to individuals who choose to abandon the practice. (author's)
[New York, New York], UNICEF, .  p.Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined as procedures involving partial or total removal of female genitals or other injury to female genital organs. In Somalia, FGM prevalence is about 95 percent and is primarily performed on girls aged 4-11. FGM can have severely adverse effects on the physical, mental, and psycholsocial well being of those who undergo the practice. The health consequences of FGM are both immediate and life-long. Despite the many internationally recognized laws against FGM, lack of validation is Islam and global advocacy to eradicate the practice, it remains embedded in Somali culture. (excerpt)
One Country. 2006 Jul-Sep; 18(2):7.UNITED NATIONS -- Stemming the global tide of violence against women will require changes in deeply rooted attitudes that for the most part transcend culture and national borders, said participants in a panel discussion here on 8 September 2006. Titled "Beyond Violence Prevention: Creating a Culture to Enable Women's Security and Development," the discussion was hosted by the Baha'i International Community and the International Presentation Association. It was held as part of the 59th Annual United Nations Department of Public Information/ Non-Governmental Organization conference. The panelists agreed that violence against women remains a severe problem in almost every nation and culture. "We all know that at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime," said Letty Chiwara, a program specialist with the Africa section of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM). In some places, such as rural Ethiopia, some 71 percent of women are abused, she said. "Harmful traditional practices -- female genital mutilation, dowry murder, the so-called honor killings, and early marriage -- bring death, disability, and psychological dysfunction for millions of women," said Ms. Chiwara. (excerpt)
New York, New York, UNICEF, 2005 Apr. 40 p.The objective of this study is to present available empirical evidence obtained through household surveys in order to estimate the prevalence of child marriage and to identify and understand the factors associated with child marriage and cohabitation. The presentation of the empirical evidence and analysis is structured around the indicators presented previously. The term 'child marriage' will be used to refer to both formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl lives with a partner as if married before the age of 18. The report presents a global assessment of child marriage levels, differentials in child marriage rates according to socio-economic and demographic variables, characteristics of the union, and knowledge and access to sexual and reproductive health information and materials. Statistical associations between indicators can reveal potential linkages in programming to promote the delay of marriage and point to opportunities to integrate advocacy and behaviour-change campaigns toward the prevention of child marriage and a multivariate analysis allows for the illumination of the net effect of each variable. Anomalies to general trends are often highlighted in the text in order to direct programmers and researchers towards case examples that may require further study or circumstances that may provide models for eradication efforts. (excerpt)
Progress in Reproductive Health Research. 2004; (67):1-8.In this issue of Progress, we look at some of the matters that need to be addressed in order to improve sexual health. The first article considers what is meant by sexual health, and what external forces have a significant impact on sexual health in the population. On page 4, the article on promoting sexual health discusses what actions are needed in other sectors —education, legislation, etc.—in order to create a supportive environment for promotion of sexual health. The article on page 5 outlines experiences so far in integrating sexual health into primary health care services, while the remaining two articles look at two specific issues that have a tremendous direct impact on sexual health—traditional sexual practices and violence related to sexuality and gender. (excerpt)
Progress in Reproductive Health Research. 2005; (67):6.In many parts of the world, certain sexual practices, such as dry sex, douching, and warming and stretching of the labia, are common. However, the epidemiological impact, and the social and cultural meanings of these practices, are not well understood. With the emergence of the HIV pandemic, there has been renewed interest in the role these practices might play in facilitating transmission of HIV, as well as in their potential impact on the effectiveness and acceptability of new products such as microbicides. In addition, it is increasingly recognized that such practices could also compromise the efficacy of some contraceptive methods. Recent studies of rituals associated with sexual initiation in sub-Saharan Africa indicate a greater prevalence of such practices than had previously been documented. However, there is a need for more in-depth research on sexual practices, to explore the full context of both belief and practice, particularly in the context of HIV. (excerpt)
Paris, France, UNESCO, Division of Basic Education, Literacy and Non-Formal Education Section, 2003 Jul.  p. (Literacy, Gender and HIV / AIDS Series)This booklet is one of an ever-growing series of easy-to-read materials produced at a succession of UNESCO workshops partially funded by the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA). The workshops are based on the appreciation that gender-sensitive literacy materials are powerful tools for communicating messages on HIV/AIDS to poor rural people, particularly illiterate women and out-of-school girls. Based on the belief that HIV/AIDS is a health as well as a social, cultural and economic issue, the workshops train a wide range of stakeholders in HIV/AIDS prevention including literacy, health and other development workers, HIV/AIDS specialists, law enforcement officers, material developers and media professionals. Before a workshop begins, the participants select their target communities and carry out needs assessments of their potential readers. (excerpt)
Geneva, Switzerland, United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, .  p. (Fact Sheet No. 23)Despite the apparent slowness of action to challenge and eliminate harmful traditional practices, the activities of human rights bodies in this field have, in recent years, resulted in noticeable progress. Traditional practices have become a recognized issue concerning the status and human rights of women and female children. The slogan "Women's Rights are Human Rights", adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, as well as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted by the General Assembly the same year, captured the reality of the status accorded to women. These issues have been further emphasized in the reports of the Special Rapporteur on harmful traditional practices, Mrs. Halima Embarek Warzazi, appointed in 1988, and in the draft Platform for Action for the Fourth World Conference on Women, to be held in September 1995. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, appointed by the Commission on Human Rights in 1994, has also examined all forms of traditional practices referred to in this Fact Sheet, as well as other practices, including virginity tests, foot binding, female infanticide and dowry deaths, all of which violate female dignity. In her preliminary report, the Special Rapporteur pointed out that blind adherence to these practices and State inaction with regard to these customs and traditions have made possible large- scale violence against women. States are enacting new laws and regulations with regard to the development of a modern economy and modern technology and to developing practices which suit a modern democracy, yet it seems that in the area of women's rights change is slow to be accepted. (E/CN.4/1995/42, para.67.) The harmful traditional practices identified in this Fact Sheet are categorized as separate issues; however, they are all consequences of the value placed on women and the girl child by society. They persist in an environment where women and the girl child have unequal access to education, wealth, health and employment. In part I, the Fact Sheet identifies and analyses the background to harmful traditional practices, their causes, and their consequences for the health of women and the girl child. Part II reviews the action taken by United Nations organs and agencies, Governments and organizations (NGOs). The Conclusions highlight the drawbacks in the implementation of the practical steps identified by the United Nations, NGOs and women's organizations. (excerpt)
A cultural approach to HIV / AIDS prevention and care, UNESCO / UNAIDS research project. Uganda's experience: country report.
Paris, France, UNESCO, Cultural Policies for Development Unit, 1999. 61 p. (Studies and Reports, Special Series, Issue No. 1)Nearly two decades since a new syndrome, the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first recognised in 1981, and its aetiological agent the human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] identified in 1983, there is still no cure nor is a vaccine against the disease available. Interventions intended to bring about changes in behaviour remain the principal means of preventing further spread and counselling is the main avenue for alleviating the adverse impact of the disease. Uganda, in common with other countries of Eastern and Central Africa, is one of the worst hit. By the end of 1997, UNAIDS estimated that between 400,000 - 500,000 Ugandans had already died of AIDS - related illnesses, out of a population of 20 million. Currently, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of deaths among adults aged 25 - 44 and ranks only second to malaria in the general population, (Ministry of Health). It is estimated that about 1.8 million Ugandans, or 9 per cent of the population are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. (excerpt)
A cultural approach to HIV / AIDS prevention and care, UNESCO / UNAIDS research project. South Africa's experience: country report.
Paris, France, UNESCO, Cultural Policies for Development Unit, 1999. 49 p. (Studies and Reports, Special Series, Issue No. 3)Within the framework of the UNESCO/UNAIDS joint project “A cultural approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and care”, it was decided to carry out country assessments on the subject, in various regions of the world seriously hit by the epidemic, the first one being Southern Africa. Besides Angola, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the case of South Africa appeared particularly relevant, as regards both the current situation in the country and the public priority given to the issue by the highest national authorities. This assessment was carried out in co-operation with the UNESCO Pretoria Office, the WHO Liaison Office in South Africa and UNESCO’s Culture Sector in Paris, through consulting the Section of Cultural Research and Management. Most of the information used in this work was drawn from discussions held in the Pretoria UNESCO Office, with various institutional partners. Complementary information and documentation was found in the WHO Information Center in Pretoria, supplemented by academic and cultural documentation devoted to Southern Africa in general and, in some cases, to South Africa. As requested in the terms of reference of the project, the assessment dealt with two major topics: (i) the consideration of cultural factors in the South Africa National Plan for HIV/AIDS prevention and care; (ii) a first approach to in-depth investigation on the cultural determinants and effects of the epidemic. However, in-depth local studies on the subject could not be carried out, due to the novelty of the approach taken and the time requirements needed for sophisticated scientific field research. (excerpt)
A cultural approach to HIV / AIDS prevention and care. UNESCO / UNAIDS research project. Thailand's experience: country report.
Paris, France, UNESCO, Cultural Policies for Development Unit, 1999. 35 p. (Studies and Reports, Special Series, Issue No. 6)Since the mid-eighties, the fight against HIV/AIDS has gradually mobilized governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations. However, it became evident that despite massive action to inform the public about the risks, behavioural changes were not occurring as expected. The infection continued to expand rapidly and serious questions began to emerge as to the efficiency of the efforts undertaken in combating the illness. Experience has demonstrated that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a complex, multifaceted issue that requires close cooperation and therefore multidimensional strategies. The establishment of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 1994 initiated a new approach to the prevention and care of this disease. The first requirement stressed was the need for increased coordination between institutions. An emphasis was also made on the need to work on both prevention and treatment while considering the significant social factors involved. As a result UNAIDS was involved in several studies focusing on developing new methodological strategies with which to tackle the issue. Following a proposal made by UNESCO’s Culture Sector to the UNAIDS Programme, on taking a cultural approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment for sustainable development, a joint project “A Cultural Approach to HIV/AIDS: Prevention and Care” was launched in May 1998. The goals were to stimulate thinking and discussion and reconsider existing tools with a cultural approach. Taking a cultural approach means considering a population’s characteristics - including lifestyles and beliefs - as essential references to the creation of action plans. This is indispensable if behaviour patterns are to be changed on a long-term basis, a vital condition for slowing down or for stopping the expansion of the epidemic. In the first phase, of the project (1998-1999) nine country assessments were carried out in three regions: Sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe), Asia and the Pacific (Thailand and bordering countries) and the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica). The findings of these studies were discussed in three subregional workshops held in Cuba, Zimbabwe and Thailand, between April and June 1999. All country assessments as well as the proceedings of the workshops are published within the present Special Series of Studies and Reports of the Cultural Policies for Development Unit. (excerpt)
A cultural approach to HIV / AIDS prevention and care. UNESCO / UNAIDS research project. Angola's experience: country report.
Paris, France, UNESCO, Cultural Policies for Development Unit, 1999. 81 p. (Studies and Reports, Special Series, Issue No. 4)The failure of prevention campaigns is not only a result of institutional factors. Social and Cultural factors also play an important role in the spread of the disease. In addition, AIDS is a disease that does not effect solely the health sector. Since it also effects the productive sector of the population, this disease could have unforeseeable consequences on the socio-economic development of a country. This study analyses the institutional responses to AIDS and the effects of the disease on people from different economic backgrounds. It encompasses population groups that are active participants of the country’s production process and those most vulnerable to the spread of the disease. An analysis is also made of the many socio-cultural factors that facilitate the spread of AIDS. Moreover, a case study is elaborated in which people’s attitudes towards such factors are explored as well as the changes in behavioural patterns that the situation demands. (author's)
Journal of Cultural Diversity. 2003 Spring; 10(1):30-34.Female circumcision (FC), also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), is a procedure that involves partial or complete removal of external female genitalia. The definition given by the World's Health Organization (WHO) states that female circumcision "comprise all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons" (WHO, 1998, p.5). The United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Population Fund, and the WHO have jointly issued a statement that FC and FGM causes unacceptable harm and issued a call for the elimination of this practice worldwide. The WHO also contends that female circumcision is a "violation of internationally accepted rights" (WHO, p.1). Female circumcision is a widespread cultural practice and affects millions of young women. Issues related to female circumcision that are of special concern are health consequences, civil rights, cultural considerations, and legal and ethical aspects. The purpose of this paper is to address the incidence of FC and FGM, the historical background, the procedure, the medical complications and cultural considerations. Legal and ethical issues of FGM will also be discussed. (author's)
Development of a scale to assess maternal and child health and family planning knowledge level among rural women.
Health and Population: Perspectives and Issues. 2000; 23(1):37-52.This paper presents a tool specifically developed for assessing the knowledge of rural women in Rohtak district of Haryana regarding maternal and child health. This tool can also be used for (i) identification of high risk women groups in the community by the programme managers as well as by the researchers; (ii) quantitative analysis of the relationship between various decisions making variables and the knowledge level of women regarding MCH and FP and (iii) impact evaluation of the IEC programme on the knowledge of women regarding maternal and child health. (author's)