‘In most countries where FGM/C is practised, the majority of girls and women think it should end. Moreover, the percentage of females who support the practice is substantially lower than the share of girls and women who have been cut, even in countries where prevalence is very high.
In 11 countries with available data, at least 10% of girls and women who have been cut say they see no benefits to the practice. The proportion reaches nearly 50% in Benin and Burkina Faso, and 59% in Kenya. Not surprisingly, the chances that a girl will be cut are considerably higher when her mother favours the continuation of the practice.
Genital cutting is often assumed to be a manifestation of patriarchal control over women, suggesting that men would be strong supporters of the practice. In fact, a similar level of support for stopping FGM/C is found among both women and men. In Chad, Guinea and Sierra Leone, substantially more men than women want FGM/C to end.’ – UNICEF
‘But they also say teenage girls are now less likely to have been cut than older women in more than half of the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where it is concentrated. In Egypt, where more women have been cut than in any other nation, 81 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds have undergone the practice, compared with 96 percent of women in their late 40s.
“The numbers aren’t huge, but they’re going in the right direction,” said Bettina Shell-Duncan, an anthropology professor at the University of Washington who was a consultant on the report.
Over all, Unicef estimates that more than 125 million girls and women have undergone the practice and that 30 million girls are at risk of it over the coming decade. The report is the first in which Unicef assessed the practice among all age groups based on household survey data from all of the 29 countries. In addition to Egypt, where 91 percent of those ages 15 to 49 have undergone the practice, countries with the highest percentages of women who have been cut include Somalia, at 98 percent; Guinea, at 96 percent; Djibouti, at 93 percent; Eritrea and Mali, at 89 percent; and Sierra Leone and Sudan, at 88 percent.
Unicef, in its first major report on the practice since 2005, found that the deepest declines in the prevalence of female genital cutting, also known as female genital mutilation, have occurred in Kenya, one of Africa’s most dynamic, developed nations, and — most surprising — in the Central African Republic, one of its poorest and least developed. Researchers now say the prevalence of the practice in these two countries began to fall four or five decades ago and has declined over three generations of women. They said the progress in Kenya, a modernizing country where efforts to stop female genital cutting stretch back to the early 1900s, made sense, but they were at a complete loss to explain why cutting had plunged in the Central African Republic, to 24 percent in 2010 from 43 percent in the mid-1990s.’ – Celia Dugger, New York Times
For UK readers: If you or someone you know needs help, information, advice, or medical attention related to female genital mutilation, call the free 24-hour helpline, believed to be the first FGM-focused helpline ever in the UK, on 0800 028 3550 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Trained child protection experts from the NSPCC will answer calls. The Metropolitan Police is also supporting the helpline, which follows a similar service in Burkina Faso which has had a positive impact.
For more information, visit the FGM archive.
Related articles: UK: the Crisis of Female Genital Mutilation, Female Genital Mutilation: ‘Mothers Need to Say No’, FGM Helpline Uncovers 34 Potential Cases and Waris Dirie: ‘FGM is Pure Violence Against Girls’.