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Africa, Middle East See Decline In Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, U.N. Data Show

“Changing attitudes have resulted in a decline in female genital mutilation in Africa and the Middle East, where the practice is most prevalent, according to United Nations data released on” the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, observed February 6, TrustLaw reports (Mollins, 2/6). According to a WHO press release, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) “refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (2/6). “In 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where FGM/C is concentrated, 36 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 29 have been cut compared to an estimated 53 percent of women between 45 and 49, according to the latest data released by the U.N. Children’s Fund and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA),” the U.N. News Centre writes, adding, “While progress has been made, the [WHO] warned that some three million girls are at risk every year and 140 million have been affected by the practice” (2/6).

“A total of 1,775 communities across Africa declared their commitment to end female genital mutilation in 2012,” the Jakarta Post notes (2/6). “In a joint statement, [UNFPA and UNICEF] highlighted Kenya as an example of sharp decline in the region, saying that ‘women aged 45 to 49 are three times more likely to have been cut than girls aged 15 to 19,’” Inter Press Service reports, adding, “The combination of national legislation and shifting attitudes at the community level seems to bear fruit” (Gathigah, 2/6). The Africa Report notes Kenya and Uganda are working together to end FGM/C, writing, “Uganda’s Minister of State for Gender, Lukia Nakadama, said unless the two countries worked together, the practice would not be wiped out” (2/6). The Christian Science Monitor details efforts to stop the practice in Uganda (Brown/Fallon, 2/6).