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UN: Better data needed to fight FGM
February 11, 2016, 9:35 pm

At least 200 million young girls, often below the age of five, have been subjected to female genital mutilation, the UN says [Xinhua]

At least 200 million young girls, often below the age of five, have been subjected to female genital mutilation, the UN says [Xinhua]

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) this week issued a warning that the number of girls subjected to genital mutilation (FGM) will rise dramatically in the next 15 years unless strong measures are taken by key affected states.

There has been a decline in the prevalence of FGM in the past 30 years, the UN says, but not all affected countries have made progress.

One of the key challenges is data compilation. UN researchers say as more data comes in, it appears to show that the number of affected girls and young women rises.

“Determining the magnitude of female genital mutilation is essential to eliminating the practice. When governments collect and publish national statistics on FGM they are better placed to understand the extent of the issue and accelerate efforts to protect the rights of millions of girls and women,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director in a press release.

A UN resolution in 2012 recognized FGM as a human rights violation and in 2015 considered its eradication an aim as part of the organization’s new Sustainable Development Goals.

But it says increasing population growth could outpace current progress and undo the successes of the past decades.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia have reported some success.

In Egypt, for example, the number of women aged 15 to 19 who underwent FGM fell from 97 per cent in 1985 to 70 per cent in 2015.

But the three countries together account for a total of 100 million FGM victims – 60 per cent of that figure comes from Indonesia where most cutting occurs before the age of five.

According to UN statements about the banned practice, Babatunde Osotimehin of the Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF’s Anthony Lake said the international organization was working to create a future “where every girl will grow up able to experience her inherent dignity, human rights and equality by 2030”.

The global number of women who have undergone FGM is 200 million.

Governments and local communities in the 30 most affected countries have launched a number of awareness campaigns and initiatives to curb the practice.

This year, a pan-African media award was launched to recognize the efforts of journalists who are highlighting the human rights violations of FGM.

Two Kenyan journalists won the UNFPA/Guardian sponsored award for their nine-minute video telling the story of five village women who escaped FGM.

The UN has earmarked International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on February 6 of every year.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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