The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) published a report Monday saying that 30 million girls are at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM), despite a global decline in the practice. The report (PDF here) covers data from over 20 years in 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East where the practice is still prevalent.
The report cites cultural acceptance as a reason for the practice’s persistence in some areas. Some countries have shown a promising decline in FGM, yet in others, like Somalia, Guinea, Djbouti, and Egypt, 9 out of 10 girls are subjected to the practice. In places where FGM is in decline, both men and women oppose its practice. About 125 million women in the world have already undergone the procedure.
FGM is widely recognized as a violation of human rights, including by the United Nations. According to UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta, “FGM/C [sic] is a violation of a girl’s rights to health, well-being and self-determination. What is clear from this report is that legislation alone is not enough. The challenge now is to let girls and women, boys and men speak out loudly and clearly and announce they want this harmful practice abandoned.”