New UNICEF report shows slow but clear decline in female genital mutilation/cutting


Yesterday UNICEF released a  new report on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) showing that, while millions of girls are still at risk, the dangerous centuries-old tradition is now on a slow but steady decline in key areas around the world.

In some sense this isn’t hard news; we reported last February that FGM/C was on the decline in Africa, where over 8,000 communities have renounced the practice. But to see this trend picking up worldwide is heartening.

On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel that the real “news” of the report is that, despite a sharp decline in FGM/C in numerous countries, in 2013 there are still so many countries where the FGM/C prevalance rate is over 90%. The most recent numbers show that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM/C and 30 million girls are still at risk of being cut in the next decade.

While I appreciate the thoughtful, passionate and brilliant voices of people from so many different cultural backgrounds on this issue, and respect the rights of different cultures, I feel that culture is no excuse for the practice, which often causes severe pain and has both immediate and long-term negative health consequences.

Maybe that’s why I appreciated most of all the report’s in-depth look at cultural attitudes towards the practice, which found that  a majority of people in most countries where FGM/C is concentrated oppose it.

Take a look at the report for yourself  and click here to learn more about FGM from the World Health Organization.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to her work at Feministing, Lori is an Associate Director at Planned Parenthood Global. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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