Millions of girls at risk of genital mutilation despite global decline

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More than 30 million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), despite increasing global rejection of the act, a report said on Monday.

A UNICEF report showed that more than 125 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM, while 30 million girls remain at risk of being cut in the next decade.

The report was based on surveys conducted in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is still prevalent.

However, the practice is in decline.

Results showed that “girls are less likely to be cut than they were some 30 years ago,” the report said.

According to the report, a remarkable number of men oppose FGM. Statistics in three African countries, Guinea, Chad and Sierra Leone, show that more men than women want FGM to stop.

Prevalence has also dropped “by as much as almost half among adolescent girls in Benin, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria.”

The World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation as “the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.”

The practice is usually tied to social or religious customs, but the origins from which it has emerged remain debatable.

FGM is often seen linked to Islam despite that fact that is not practiced by all Muslims, and there are non-Muslims who also practice it.