A new report by Unicef has made startling revelations that the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is more rampant across the world, affecting more girls and women, than previously thought.
The report says at least 200 million women and girls have undergone genital mutilation in 30 countries and “more than half live in just three countries: Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia”.
The report reveals that a staggering 44 million of those who have been cut are 14 years-old and younger, “with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent”.
However, the Gambia’s parliament recently passed a bill which bans FGM. The new law stipulates that a person who engages in female circumcision could face up to three years in prison or a fine of 50,000 dalasi ($1,250) and a person could face life imprisonment if the act results in death.
FGM refers to a number of procedures, but Unicef has declared that regardless of which form FGM takes, the practice is a violation of children’s rights, which needs to be abolished forthwith.
Despite calls by rights activists for a systemic cultural shift to end genital mutilation practice, reports suggest that the practice is prevalent and it is practiced quietly in many parts of Africa. “Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 per cent, Guinea 97 per cent and Djibouti 93 per cent,” the report says.
The new global figure on FGM includes nearly 70 million more girls and women than the last estimate in 2014, due to new data provided by Indonesia and population growth.
It is disheartening to note that globally the practice is on the rise and “if current trends continue the number of girls and women subjected to FMG will increase significantly over the next 15 years,” Unicef says.