Originally written by Katie Nguyen for TrustLaw.

LONDON (TrustLaw) – African member states of the United Nations have submitted a draft resolution on ending female genital mutilation (FGM) to the U.N. General Assembly, in what campaigners have hailed as a landmark stepto end a practice that has been inflicted on up to 140 million women and girls.

FGM, which is widespread in parts of Africa and pockets of the Middle East and Asia, involves the partial or total removal of the external genitals, and in many cases the closing of the vaginal opening.

It is usually arranged by the women of the family and performed by traditional cutters who use anything from scissors to razor blades, broken glass and tin can lids.

The procedure, generally carried out without any kind of anaesthetic or pain relief, can cause lasting physical and emotional damage. In some cases it is fatal.

Although 19 of the 28 African countries where FGM is found have laws against it, these are poorly enforced. Somalia, where FGM is near universal, banned the practice under its new provisional constitution in August.

The draft resolution, which was submitted on Wednesday, urges states to “condemn all harmful practices that affect women and girls, in particular female genital mutilations … and to take all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit female genital mutilations and to protect women and girls from this form of violence, and to end impunity”.

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