More than 125m girls and women alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation of some kind in the 29 Middle Eastern and African countries where it is most common. Another 30m are estimated to be at risk over the next decade.
The practice—which ranges from a symbolic nick, to the removal of all or part of a girl’s clitoris, to infibulation (sewing up the labia)—has declined in many places. In fact, it remains more widespread than popular. There is a gap between the number of women who have been cut and those who think the practice should continue, according to a new report by UNICEF. The difference is especially startling in Ethiopia and Sudan.
The practice has fallen in more than half the countries that UNICEF looked at, but in places where it is most common, such as Egypt and Sudan, the prevalence has hardly changed. However, support for it is decreasing among both sexes but especially younger people, even in countries where it is almost universal. When this happens, the actual rate of mutilations tends to fall too.
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First appeared on The Economist.
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