UNICEF has released a new report, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change. The report focuses on the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the progress being made to end this harmful practice. The report covers on 29 countries with the highest reported concentrations of FGM. In addition to reporting on current trends, the report also reviews a history of FGM and how it has been approached from the 1920s to 2012.
The report found that FGM is still widely practiced and that more than 125 million women living in the 29 focus countries have experienced FGM. It further estimates that 30 million girls are currently at risk for undergoing FGM before the year 2023. However, the findings also indicate a promising trend: while still widely practiced, there has been an overall decline in support for FGM. This decline is visible in both the numbers of women and girls who have been subjected to FGM over time as well as in changing opinions on the practice. The numbers of girls subjected to FGM is decreasing more slowly in some of the countries with higher reported concentrations of FGM and much more rapidly in countries that initially reported a lower prevalence. Overall, half of the countries profiled have shown a decrease in prevalence of FGM.
UNICEF’s goals with the report are to compile a comprehensive understanding of FGM’s prevalence as well as to provide a resource to facilitate change. The report recommends increased open communication about FGM and its dangers as well as collective movements speaking out against it. Furthermore, because progress made today might not be visible until a future generation of girls grows up, the report expresses the need to continue researching and monitoring this harmful practice.