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Actress Freida Pinto addresses UN girls' rights summit in London

by The Associated Press

Posted Jul 22, 2014 1:53 pm EDT

From left to right, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chantal Compaore the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and activist Malala Yousafzai, sit, during the Girl Summit 2014 at the Walworth Academy, in London, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Girls’ rights campaigners including Malala Yousafzai are calling for an end to the practice of female genital mutilation. (AP Photo, PA, Oli Scarff) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

LONDON – Actress Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame has joined forces with girls’ rights campaigners in calling for an end to the practice of female genital mutilation.

The Indian actress, an ambassador for an international children’s development organization, called Tuesday for more progress to abolish the practice as she addressed Britain’s inaugural “Girl Summit.”

UNICEF, the United Nations’ children agency, said some progress has been made on ending female genital mutilation, most commonly practiced in Africa and the Middle East. It is still highly prevalent in Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Somalia.

The agency and Britain’s government hope that the summit will help galvanize action to end the practice within a generation.

Britain’s government announced new measures to tackle the problems in the U.K., including prosecution for parents if they fail to prevent their daughters from being subjected to the practice.

The one-day event also focused on child marriages, which UNICEF says affects 700 million women alive today, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Also to address the summit was Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who was shot by the Taliban and recovered to become a global campaigner for education and women’s rights.

“Traditions are not sent from heaven, they are not sent from God,” she said. “It is we who make cultures and we have the right to change it and we should change it.”