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IWD: New data reveals 15% increase in number of women and girls undergoing female genital mutilation

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Fresh data has revealed that the number of women and girls who underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) increased by 15% in the last eight years.

Data and figures released by the UN children’s agency, UNICEF showed that more than 230 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM compared with 200 million in 2016.

UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell pointed out that most cases of FGM are experienced by girls of younger age.

By UNICEF’s estimate, work to fully eliminate the practice of FGM by the UN’s target date of 2030 would need to be happening 27 times faster than it is today.

UNICEF also explained that is not like female genital mutilation is becoming more common globally, is just that more girls are being born in FGM-practicing countries in comparison to the rest of the world.

Female Genital Mutilation involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and is a violation of human rights. In 2012 the UN passed a resolution to ban it.

About 60% of FGM cases (144m) happen in Africa, followed by 80m in Asia and 6m in the Middle East.

Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti, Egypt, Sudan, and Mali have the highest prevalence rates.

According to UNICEF, these are countries also dealing with a host of other challenges often making it difficult to give women and girls the support they need.

In general, many African countries have witnessed a steady decline in the practice over the last decade.

Claudia Clappa, UNICEF’s report lead author on the matter stressed that core areas are still rooted in the practice. The majority of men and women want the practice to stop, but this growing opposition to the practice is not often matched with enough action.

Nimco Ali, The chief executive of the Five Foundation, a global partnership to end FGM stated that grassroots organizations fighting to end the practice need more funding.

According to UNICEF’s published data, more families are opting to have their daughters cut as early as Two years old in a bid to reduce the psychological trauma endured by older girls.

The Agency frowned on this development and said it is a trend that needs to be addressed.

In Gambia, a bill to repeal its ban on FGM was tabled in parliament this week sparking a nationwide debate on rights, religion and culture.

In Sierra Leone, the practice remains legal despite growing calls by citizens for FGM to be banned. Three girls died in the country during FGM sessions earlier in the year.

In Kenya, the practice was criminalized in 2011 leading to a sharp drop in FGM, but activist and anti-FGM campaigners are still concerned about the progress being made.

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