Statistics on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Content

1. What is FGM?
2. Numbers
3. Geographical distribution
4. Evolution

1. What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation – FGM, sometimes called female genital cutting or “circumcission” – refers to a number of practices, most of which involve cutting away part or all of the external female genitalia. The practice ranges from a symbolic nick, to the removal of all or part of a girl’s clitoris, to infibulation (sewing up the labia). It is a violation of the human rights of girls and women, particularly because it causes severe pain and has both immediate and long-term health consequences, not to mention the effect on female sexuality.

Though the practice can vary, “procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” are defined as FGM according to the World Health Organization.

It’s a serious criminal offence in many, mostly Western countries. FGM is not prescribed by Islam or the Bible. It predates Islam and is practised across religions. It’s more a cultural than a religious practice.

FGM is usually carried out by elderly people in the community (usually, but not exclusively, women) who have been specially designated for this task, or by traditional birth attendants. These people receive a fee from the girls’ family members, in money or in kind. In some cases, medical personnel perform the operation as well, for a fee. Among certain populations, FGM may be carried out by traditional health practitioners, (male) barbers, members of secret societies, herbalists, and sometimes by a female relative. (source)

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2. Numbers

An estimated 100 to 140 million women and girls alive today are affected by FGM. About half of those women are in only 3 countries: 27 million in Egypt, 23 million in Ethiopia, and 20 million in Nigeria. At least 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the practice every year. Most girls undergo FGM when they are between 7 and 10 years old, although it is practiced in some cultures as early as a few days after birth or as late as just prior to marriage.

Unicef estimates that more than 125 million girls and women have undergone the practice and that 30 million girls are at risk of it over the coming decade. In addition to Egypt, where 91 percent of women 15 to 49 have undergone the practice, countries with the highest percentages of women who have been cut include Somalia, at 98 percent; Guinea, at 96 percent; Djibouti, at 93 percent; Eritrea and Mali, at 89 percent; and Sierra Leone and Sudan, at 88 percent. Almost one in five young girls in sub-Saharan Africa are forced to endure FGM.

168,000 girls and women living in the United States have already undergone, or are at risk of undergoing FGM. In the UK, it is estimated that 66,000 women and girls have undergone, and 24,000 girls under the age of 11 are at risk of undergoing FGM. In the Gambia, 78.3 percent of women have undergone FGM. In Somalia the prevalence of FGM is almost universal: 98 percent (source).

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3. Geographical distribution

There are an estimated 30 countries where FGM is traditional practice, and members of communities from those countries that have emigrated practice it in their new homelands.

The practice is common in many parts of Africa (in at least 28 African countries), as well as in some Asian and Arab Countries. Certain immigrant communities in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States also engage in it. Countries have tried to ban the practice, with mixed success:

banning female genital mutilation

The following map shows the percentages of girls and women aged 15–49 who have experienced FGM in some countries in Africa:

africa female genital mutilation

fgm map

(source)

Here’s a more up-to-date map:

FGM prevalence in Africa

FGM prevalence in Africa

(source)

fgm

(source)

female genital mutilation prevalence

Teenage girls are now less likely to have been cut than older women in more than half of the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated. In Egypt, for example, where more women have been cut than in any other nation, survey data showed that 81 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds had undergone the practice, compared with 96 percent of women in their late 40s. Only a third of teenage Egyptian girls who were surveyed thought it should continue, compared with almost two-thirds of older women (source).

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 11.40.59 AM

(source)
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4. Evolution

There is some progress in the sense that rates are coming down:

Trends in FGM

(source)

fgm rates

(source)

Also the fact that younger women are less likely to have experienced FGM shows that the practice is becoming slowly less common:

fgm rates by age

(source)

The good news is that the practice is more widespread than it is popular, giving some hope that it will decline even more in the future;

fgm

(source)
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14 thoughts on “Statistics on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

  1. KATE says:

    I’m currently doing an assignment on the role of social workers and international human rights bodies in combatting FGM. I was looking for the statistics pertaining to the specific types (i.e. TYPE I, II, III, and IV) and wondered if anyone knows where I can find them?

  2. Wafakhale James Bobic says:

    I am currently carrying out an assignment on effects of FGM on the holistic development of the girl child age 12-16 years.Not only am i looking for statistics of FGM but also health,emotional,social and spiritual effects of FGM the development of the girl child

  3. Mary says:

    We are all human first, religion is much after that. Female genital mutilation
    is butchery and it has to STOP, no matter what. If child rape is a crime then female circumcision is equally a crime. How can mothers force their 7 year old daughter to such torture when the child looks up to her with so much trust . IT IS A SHAME ON MOTHERHOOD.. Its a shame for all of us as Indians to tolerate such nasty proceedure in India and if nothing is being done about this,every day many more girls go through this pain.

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  6. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great information I was looking for this information for my
    mission.

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