Pope Francis Photograph:( Reuters )
As per the UN, cases of FGM are found in about 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East but it is also practised by immigrant population elsewhere
Pope Francis on Sunday (February 6) condemned female genital mutilation and trafficking for prostitution. His words came on United Nations International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
"This practice, which is unfortunately common in various parts of the world, humiliates the dignity of a woman and gravely attacks her physical integrity," Francis said
As per the UN, cases of FGM are found in about 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East but it is also practised by immigrant population elsewhere.
Francis, speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square for his weekly blessing and address, noted that the practice was often carried out in conditions that endangered a girl's health.
In a related appeal, Francis called for more efforts to stop human trafficking, particularly of women and girls for prostitution.
"This is a deep wound inflicted by the shameful search for gain without any respect for the human person," he said ahead of the Catholic Church's International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking this Tuesday (February 8).
"There are so many girls that we see on the streets who are not free. They are slaves of traffickers who send them to work and beat them if they don't return with money. This happens today, in our cities," he said.
Trafficking of women from Africa or Eastern Europe for prostitution is a particular problem in Rome.
Officials say criminal gangs lure the women to Italy with the promise of jobs and then force them into prostitution, threatening to harm their families back home if they go to the police.
Calling both FGM and trafficking of persons, "wounds of humanity," Francis urged leaders "to act decisively to stop both the exploitation as well as humiliating practices that afflict above all women and girls".
Catholic nuns in Rome are the forefront of fighting trafficking of women. In 2016, Francis visited a Rome safe house where a charity protects women freed from pimps.
(With inputs from agencies)