27/11/2012 11:43 GMT | Updated 27/11/2012 12:05 GMT

FGM Should Be Banned, Says Key United Nations Committee

The United Nations human rights committee has called for a global ban of female genital mutilation in what campaigners have labeled a "breakthrough".

Amnesty International said the resolution represented a "major boost to civil society organisations fighting for an end to the abusive practice".

It will go before the full general assembly in December.

José Luis Díaz, Amnesty International’s UN representative in New York, said: “FGM is an indictment of us all - that a girl or young woman can be held down and mutilated is a violation of her human rights and - shockingly - an estimated three million girls are at risk each year.

“Vitally, this UN resolution places FGM in a human rights framework and calls for a holistic approach, stressing as it does the importance of empowerment of women, promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence."

Cesare Maria Ragaglini, Italy's ambassador to the UN, said the resolution was a "breakthrough".

It comes after the UK government announced it was also providing support aimed at reducing FGM, with the launch of a declaration against the crime.

Up to 24,000 young girls are estimated to be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Britain, which mostly occurs when girls as young as four are taken abroad by their relatives to be “cut”. The practice has serious long-term effects and leaves women at risk of a wide range of health problems, including chronic infection, infertility, and post-traumatic stress disorder.