Practice Of FGM On Decline Globally, But 30M Girls At Risk Over Next Decade, UNICEF Reports

“More than 125 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation [FGM], and 30 million more girls are at risk in the next decade, UNICEF said” in a report (.pdf) released Monday, Agence France-Presse reports (Sheridan, 7/22). “The tradition remains ‘remarkably persistent, despite nearly a century of attempts to eliminate it,’ said the report, which compiled 20 years of data across 29 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East in which the practice is still conducted,” Deutsche Welle writes (7/22). “While [FGM] has been virtually abandoned by certain groups and countries, it remains entrenched in many others, even where there is legislation against it and efforts by governments and non-governmental organizations to convince communities to stop” the U.N. News Centre notes (7/22). “According to the comprehensive report, female genital mutilation is mainly practiced in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East,” Huffington Post’s “World” blog states, adding, “Around one in five of those women and girls live in Egypt,” and “[a]lmost all girls are cut before the age of 15” (7/22). “Surveys in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where [the practice] persists show that girls are less likely to be cut than they were some 30 years ago, and that support for the practice is in decline, even in countries where it remains almost universal, such as Egypt and Sudan,” according to a UNICEF press release (7/22).

“But FGM remains almost universal in Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt and there was little discernible decline in Chad, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Sudan or Yemen, the study found,” BBC News notes (7/22). “Somalia had the highest rate (98 percent of women aged 15-49), followed by Guinea (93 percent), Djibouti (93 percent), and Egypt (91 percent),” GlobalPost adds (Deasy, 7/22). “The report … shows that many men and women want to stop FGM but they feel obliged to continue the tradition because of social pressure,” Thomas Reuters Foundation writes (Batha, 7/22). “The report points to a gap between people’s personal views on [FGM] and the entrenched sense of social obligation that fuels its continuation, exacerbated by a lack of open communication on this sensitive issue,” the U.N. News Centre reports (7/22). “The report’s authors stress that the tradition still has a tenacious hold in many places, but they say the fledgling declines may foreshadow more generational change,” according to the New York Times (Dugger, 7/22). “Laws are not enough to stop the practice entirely, and more people must speak out in order to eliminate it among certain ethnic groups and communities, the researchers said,” Australia’s ABC News notes (Vincent, 7/23). The news service provides an interview with report author Claudia Cappa of UNICEF (Hall, 7/23). Thomas Reuters Foundation provides a factbox on the prevalence of the practice in various countries (Batha, 7/22). The Guardian provides an interactive graphic depicting some of the report data (7/22).