This year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting celebrated the release of new U.N. figures showing a decline in the practice among African communities.
According to a recent U.N. study, nearly 2,000 communities across Africa have abandoned female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) last year alone, bringing the total number of communities renouncing the practice to 8,000.
“These encouraging findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the United Nations Population Fund Executive Director.
The Annual Report 2011 for the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is a part of the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting program which aims to help countries phase out the practice. Among the 15 African nations surveyed, Kenya came out on top, achieving a reduction of 16 percent from 2003 to 2009.
While the results of the survey are promising, the practice persists in many regions across Africa and around the world.
FGM/C is a traditional cultural practice that involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. The level of removal ranges from nicking the area to a total removal of the external female genitalia, depending on custom.
Women who undergo the procedure are placed at risk for a wide range of health complications, including causing serious pain, trauma, bleeding, infections or even death. Also, certain women may never be able to have sex normally, have problems using the bathroom, encounter issues during pregnancy and labor and be at an increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM/C.
Learn more about FGM/C here.
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(Photo: REUTERS/James Akena)