UNICEF: more than 230 million victims of female genital mutilation UNICEF: more than 230 million victims of female genital mutilation

UNICEF: more than 230 million victims of female genital mutilation

UNICEF: more than 230 million victims of female genital mutilation

More than 230 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation, most of them living in Africa, according to a report released Friday by the United Nations children's agency.

Over the past eight years, some 30 million people have undergone this procedure, which consists of partial or total removal of the external genitalia , estimates UNICEF in this report published on the occasion of International Women's Day.

The percentage of women and girls who undergo female genital mutilation is falling, UNICEF said, but it warned that efforts to eradicate the practice are too slow to keep pace with rapidly growing populations.

“The practice of female genital mutilation is declining, but not fast enough ,” the report says.

This practice, which is wrongly believed to control women's sexuality , can cause serious bleeding or even death. Girls are subjected to this procedure at ages ranging from infancy to adolescence. In the long term, it can lead to urinary tract infections , menstrual problems , pain, decreased sexual satisfaction , and childbirth complications, as well as depression, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress disorder. .

“We are also seeing a worrying trend: more and more girls are being subjected to this practice at younger ages, often before their fifth birthday. This further reduces the opportunity to intervene ,” said Catherine Russell, chief executive of the 'UNICEF.

Some 144 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation in Africa alone , followed by Asia and the Middle East , with 80 million and 6 million cases respectively, according to the report. Somalia tops the list of countries where the practice, also known as female circumcision , is widespread, with 99% of the female population aged 15 to 49 having been cut.

Burkina Faso has made the most considerable progress, reducing the proportion of women aged 15 to 49 circumcised from 80% to 30% in the space of three decades.

The report also shows that four in ten survivors live in countries torn by conflict and experiencing high population growth , adding that political instability disrupts efforts to prevent the practice and provide support to victims.

“Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan have the highest numbers of girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation in conflict-affected countries ,” the report said.

Although the report welcomes progress in some countries, it warns that the world is far from meeting the United Nations' goal of eradicating the practice globally by 2030.

“In some countries, progress would need to be ten times faster than the best progress seen in history to achieve the goal by 2030 ,” the report said.

Nimco Ali, chief executive of the Five Foundation , a UK- based charity that fights female genital mutilation, said UNICEF's estimates were "shocking"  and there was an urgent need to increase funding to put an end to this practice.

“We must use the last six years of this decade to finally tackle this abominable violation of girls' human rights and save the next generation from the horrors of female genital mutilation ,” the activist said in a press release, author and survivor of female genital mutilation born in Somalia.


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