How Far Have the Efforts to Stop Female Genital Mutilation Come?
By admin June 16, 2015



Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) means “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” following the definition from WHO. Statistically, around 130 million girls and women have experienced FGM in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East region due to the traditional, religious, or ethnic norms, according to UNICEF. However, it not only causes harmful consequences for women’s health through a number of possible infections, but also violates their human rights by forcing them to undergo fearful, dangerous, and humiliating treatment. Girls who have undergone FGM describe it as the worst day of their life.


In December 2012, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously voted to endeavor together to eradicate FGM practices. In addition, many NGOs and bilateral and multilateral aid agencies have supported to advocate equal rights for women and raise awareness on how FGM practices can affect women’s life and health. Then, with this extensive support from around the world, how far have the efforts to stop female genital mutilation come?


According to the UNFPA and UNICEF, 8,000 communities in Africa have agreed to abandon traditional customs related with FGM as well as to support awareness to change the rituals and to change the recognition about women who has not gone through FGM. If looking at the exemplary story, UNDP in Egypt has been supporting the governorates and villages that are willing to combat FGM. After watching a series of plays to raise awareness against FGM, people have become able to openly discuss the issue and the damage caused by it.


As evidenced, the changing attitudes towards FGM show slow but evident progress. In Egypt, the percentage of circumcised girls between 15 and 17 years has dropped from 74 percent in 2008 to 61 percent in 2014, according to UNDP. Moreover, the research from UNICEF shows that FGM in some countries is less prevalent among adolescent girls than middle-aged women, corroborating the result of a survey, which shows that “out of the 82 percent of circumcised mothers, only 35 percent intend to circumcise their daughters.”


Although FGM is a sensitive issue to tackle in that it is interlinked with traditional, religious, cultural, and ethnic norms, it has been proven that it hurts women both mentally and physically. Indeed, the efforts to protect women from harmful FGM practices are making progress by reducing the number of women going through this right of passage to become a woman from a girl. While much more progress in changing the recognition and cultural norms surrounding the practice is needed, the efforts being made are necessary in order to eliminate FGM worldwide.



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