U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says culture, religion, and tradition are not excuses for female genital mutilation.
Clinton Thursday hosted the first-ever State Department event marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.
She said many cultural traditions no longer exist because they are no longer acceptable. She says female circumcision has no medical benefits and is simply a human rights violation.
In female circumcision, young girls have their clitorises cut off, often without anesthesia. The practice is said to protect purity and cleanliness.
It is widely associated with African tribes and Islam. But United Nations officials say it is also carried out in the Middle East, Colombia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and places in Western Europe where its believers have emigrated.
Some Islamic leaders have started to speak out against the practice. A German official who heads up a group opposed to genital mutilation says six Kurdish villages declared themselves mutilation free this year.