This publication aims to document the most relevant features of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 23 African and six Arab countries. The purpose of this…
This publication aims to document the most relevant features of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 23 African and six Arab countries. The purpose of this paper is to provide a simple presentation of current levels; the main differences, according to background characteristics; and observed trends in the last 10-15 years. Considering past, current and future demographic dynamics helps identify possible scenarios for elimination.
Data on FGM have been collected through Demographic Health Surveys since 1990, with about 50 surveys conducted in 23 countries with FGM concentrations, and through Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys since 2000, with about 31 surveys conducted in 18 countries with prevalent FGM. Reliable data on the practice are now available for all African countries where the practice is concentrated, plus Iraq and Yemen. Statistical information is currently not available for countries where FGM has been newly identified, such as India and Indonesia.
Approximately 130 million girls have undergone FGM in countries where the practice remains prevalent. If programmatic interventions and resources remain the same or decline, over 15.2 million girls will be subject to FGM. However if the 17 target countries attain their respective annual rates of reduction, four million girls will have been protected from FGM. Demographic analysis of FGM demonstrates that it is a practice that occurs within specific socio-cultural parameters, such as place of residence, and reproductive health and status. Interventions focusing on abandonment should take into consideration gender inequalities, how manifest, exacerbating high fertility and very young populations.
Gender equality has a catalytic effect on the achievement of inclusive and progressive human development, good governance, sustained peace, and harmonious dynamics between environments and human populations – all of which are at the centre of sustainable development and human rights.
The case studies focusing on Burkina Faso and Guinea show that characteristics such as the mother’s educational level and whether or not she experienced FGM, religious background and ethnicity provide valuable information in determining who is subject to FGM and defining the milieu in which they live. This information corroborates other studies finding that ethnic and religious background are strong determinants.
Presented analysis strongly highlights the importance of data in understanding the context within which FGM programmes operate, especially those that target local communities. Djibouti, with a rapidly growing urban population, should focus on prevention programmes in cities. A highly rural country such as Guinea-Bissau will take a different approach, as only a few ethnic groups practice FGM.
This is one of the first attempts to analyse and have a better understanding of the demographic, social and economic context of the practice. It aims to highlight the population and development issues surrounding the social norms of FGM.