According to new data on the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation released by the UN on the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, the practice is becoming less prevalent overall and the younger generation is less likely to have it carried out. This data has surprisingly not figured in recent news coverage, yet the trend is interesting to note and heartening for organisations like FORWARD UK that work to abolish the practice.
In 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where the practice of FGM is most common, 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.
The decrease in numbers is particularly sharp in some countries. For example, in Kenya, women aged 45-49 are three times more likely to have undergone FGM than girls aged 15-19.
Even in high prevalence countries, attitudes toward the practice are evolving. In Egypt, where around 90 per cent of girls and women have been subjected to the practice, an encouraging 28 per cent of those aged 15-49 who have been married thought that FGM should stop, in 2008, compared with 13 per cent in 1995.
Recent estimates produced by UNICEF however still show that at least 120 million girls and women have experienced FGM in these 29 countries. There therefore remains a need for further efforts to eradicate the practice.