Safer Internet Day & International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM: 6 February 2018

New York, 6 February 2018 - Today is an important day in our collective work and efforts to create a world free from violence for all children: 6 February 2018 marks both 'Safer Internet Day' and the ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)’.

Safer Internet Day: Increasing numbers of younger children are going online every day, but many of these children make little distinction between offline and online ‘friendships’. It is our responsibility to help ensure they are informed and empowered to prevent potential risks, by talking openly with them at home and in school.

Talking with children about these risks is critical: a single act of online bullying or a single exploitative image can rapidly reach limitless numbers of people around the world and stay on cyberspace forever. Victims of such acts need to be supported through truly child-friendly services for their healing, recovery and reintegration.

Creating a safe online environment for all children requires striking an appropriate balance between maximizing the potential of information-communication technologies to promote children’s safe and healthy digital citizenship, while minimizing risks and ensuring children’s safety and protection.

Legislation has a critical role in preventing and combating children’s online abuse and exploitation. Rapid technological advances require constant legislative reviews to keep up with emerging issues that can put children at risk. It is crucial that relevant laws are enforced and that awareness-raising and capacity-building activities for children around this important issue are supported to prevent online violence against children.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation: At least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, which is both a harmful practice and a human rights violation of girls and women. FGM inflicts serious physical and psychological violence and compromises girls’ rights, including their right to health – while also compromising their protection from violence and infringing on their dignity, bodily integrity and privacy. 

It is important to both enact and enforce legislation to prevent this serious form of violence, to secure the protection and redress of children at risk, and to fight the impunity of perpetrators. Communicating a clear message of condemnation of harmful practices such as FGM, legislation legitimizes efforts by national authorities and civil society organizations, and underpins other measures designed to promote and support abandonment of such practices.

Legal reform also provides a crucial opportunity to engage with families and communities where harmful practices such as FGM are maintained, helping to address social dynamics behind entrenched traditions and providing opportunities for change and support to those communities in their efforts to abandon harmful practices.

All girls and women around the world have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and to achieve their full potential. But millions are prevented from doing so as victims of harmful practices such as FGM. Working together, we can help end FGM, and other harmful practices.  

Today and everyday - let’s keep working together to create a world free from violence for all girls and boys - both online and offline. Thank-you for your all efforts on behalf of children around the world!