Female Genital Mutilation

FGM is thought to affect up to 140 million women and girls, and is recognised as a violation of human rights.

FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman's libido and therefore believed to help her resist 'illicit' sexual acts.

Between 100 million and 140 million women and girls are thought to be living with the consequences of female genital mutilation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

FGM is defined by the WHO as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons". It is recognised as a violation of the human rights of women and girls. In December 2012, the United Nations general assembly unanimously voted to work for the elimination of FGM throughout the world.  

Using more than 70 national surveys, produced over a period of more than 20 years, the report focused on the 29 countries where the practice is most common.

In eight countries, almost all young girls are cut. 
In Somalia, the prevalence is 98%, in Guinea 96%, in Djibouti 93% and in Egypt, in spite of its partly westernised image, 91%. In Eritrea and Mali the figure is 89% and a prevalence of 88% was reported in both Sierra Leone and Sudan. 

The UN population fund and Unicef, the UN children's fund, say 8,000 communities in Africa have agreed to abandon the traditional practice. They have been involved in supporting awareness of the health and human rights issues, in negotiations and discussions with the leaders of the communities and in suggesting alternative rituals. Where this process is successful, the social status and marriage prospects of young girls are not damaged as they could be if their families acted alone

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