in brief: millions at risk of female genital mutilation
UNICEF has reported that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, and 30 million more are at risk in the next decade.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to any procedure that intentionally changes or injures female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It has no health benefits, and can cause severe bleeding, urination difficulties, cysts, infections, infertility, as well as complications in childbirth.
FGM is usually performed on young girls between infancy and age fifteen. Furthermore, it is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
A report compiled by the United Nations Children’s Fund over twenty years across twenty-nine countries in Africa and the Middle East has shown that the traditions remains ‘remarkably persistent, despite nearly a century of attempts to eliminate it.’
The researchers also stated that laws are not enough to stop FGM, as it is socially accepted by many faiths, including Christianity, Islam, and African traditional religions, who believe it improves the marriage prospects and beauty of the victim. In countries such as Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti, and Egypt, over 90% of females aged 15-49 have undergone FGM.
There has been widespread international outcry over FGM in the past few years, with WHO publishing a ‘Global strategy to stop health care providers from performing female genital mutilation,,’ and the UN General Assembly accepting a resolution to eliminate FGM.
The United Nations Children’s Fund report has noted that support of FGM in many countries is on the decline, it still remains ‘almost universal’ in countries such as Chad, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Sudan, and Yemen.