On The Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM… Some Numbers tell us if we can end FGM by 2030 or not

This day marks the 14th annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a day borne out of Stella Obasanjo’s (the late First Lady of Nigeria) statement at the International Conference on Female circumcision in 2003 that there would be “Zero Tolerance to FGM” in Africa.

Female genital mutilation is a child abuse, a torture, and a barbarian crime. Many girls are forced to undergo one of 3 types of cutting, the 1st is Clitoridectomy, which is a partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris), the 2nd is called Excision, and it’s partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina), the last type is Infibulation, which refers to narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and re-positioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

Currently, UNFPA with UNICEF, leads the largest global program to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. It focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives, and this raises an obvious question of the program success, and the possibility of achieving the giant result.

The numbers may be a good answer for this question:

·Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.

· Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice.

·Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 per cent, Guinea 97 per cent and Djibouti 93 per cent.

·FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.

·FGM ranks as one of the worst manifestation of gender inequality. Last year, UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report estimated that gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa six percent of its GDP leading to around US$ 95 billion in lost revenue.

·In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where the practice of FGM/C is concentrated, on average, 36 per cent of girls aged 15-19 have been cut compared to an estimated 53 per cent of women aged 45-49.

·Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice.

·If current trends continue, 15 million more girls could be affected by 2030.

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