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Loud and Clear

A new report finds the extent of FGM being underestimated and its happening in over 90 countries

Equality Now in partnership with End FGM European Network, and End FGM/C U.S. Network has produced a new report “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Call for a Global Response”, about how the global prevalence of FGM/C has substantially been underestimated and is present in over 90 countries.

Out of the 92 countries where there is evidence of women and girls living with or at risk of undergoing FGM, 51 have laws against FGM. Countries with specific anti-FGM laws include Kenya, Benin, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, and Uganda. However, some countries do not specifically address FGM within their laws. These include; Indonesia, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, The Maldives, and Yemen.

According to official UNICEF figures (2020), FGM/C affects at least 200 million women and girls in 31 countries worldwide. This figure only includes countries where there is available data from large-scale representative surveys, which consist of 27 countries from the African continent, as well as Iraq, Yemen, The Maldives, and Indonesia.

Equality Now’s Program Officer, End Harmful Practices, Felister Gitonga notes that the report is timely. “It comes at a crucial time when the United Nations is reviewing the next decade of implementation of the SDGs. The report demonstrates that 5.3 is a global target because FGM is not an African issue but a global issue.

“The practice is present in every continent except Antarctica and its times for global leaders to take action and eradicate FGM globally by 2030. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: a call for a global response report comes at a crucial time when the United Nations is reviewing the next decade of implementation of the SDGs. The report demonstrates that 5.3 is a global target because FGM is not an African issue but a global issue. The practice is present in every continent except Antarctica and its times for global leaders to take action and eradicate FGM globally by 2030,”

However, there are at least 60 other countries where the practice of FGM/C has been documented either through indirect estimates, small-scale studies, anecdotal evidence, and media reports.

Our new FGM report sheds light on the growing body of evidence that FGM/C takes place in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and North America, both amongst indigenous and diaspora communities. It also highlights key gaps in data availability and anti-FGM legislation.

Better statistical information is invaluable because it can help put pressure on governments to take action and provides a baseline from which the scale and effectiveness of interventions can be measured. It also assists grassroots organizations and researchers to attract more funding, as a lack of financial backing is a major problem affecting the women’s rights activists we have interviewed for this research.

With only 10 years left to eradicate FGM by 2030, the time to take stock and accelerate action is now. Equality Now’s global call is;

  • The need to strengthen global and political commitment to eliminate FGM;
  • Urgently increase resources and investment to end FGM and support survivors;
  • Strengthen base through research;
  • Enact and enforce comprehensive laws and national policies; and
  • Improve the wellbeing of survivors by providing necessary and critical support and services

About Equality Now

Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world by combining grassroots activism with national, regional and international legal advocacy. Our vast network of activists, supporters and lawyers achieve legal and systemic change by holding governments responsible for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sexual trafficking, sexual violence, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage

While working with different partner organizations at the community level, Equality Now uses legal frameworks to address sexual violence by advocating for the enforcement of strong laws and policies that protect women and girls from continued sexual violations to keep them safe at home, schools and in their communities.

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