Thank Goodness: Female Circumcision Has Become Less Prevalent In Africa

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Reported By: Britt L

A new assessment of the ancient practice of  female g*nital cutting has found a gradual but significant decline in many countries, even in some where it remains heavily practiced.

Girls in their teen ages are less likely now to have been cut than older women in more than half of the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is mostly concentrated. The United Nations Children’s Fund reports that in Egypt, where more women have been cut than in any other nation, 81% of 15 to 19-year-olds underwent the procedure, compared to 96 percent of women in their late forties.

The difference in Egypt’s view point is especially surprising. Only a third of teenage girls surveyed thought the circumcision ritual should still continue, compared with almost two-thirds of older women.

Along with Egypt, countries with the greatest percentages of women who have been cut include Djibouti at 93 percent, Sierra Leone and Sudan at 88 percent, Guinea at 96 percent and Somalia at 98 percent.

It is estimated that more than 125 million girls and women have undergone the practice and that 30 million girls are at risk of it. The report is the first that assesses the practice among all age groups based on household survey data from all of the 29 countries.

“The fact that young women are against the practice in places like Egypt gives us hope that they will be able to stop the cutting of their daughters,” said Claudia Cappa, lead author of the Unicef report. “We need to create conditions so they can act on their beliefs.”

Unicef, in its first major report on the practice since 2005, found that the greatest declines in the practice of female circumcision, also known as female g*nital mutilation, have occurred in Kenya, and in the Central African Republic.