least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone Female Genital
Mutilation (FGM) in 30 different countries, according to the data of the
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
This was disclosed recently during the validation of the National Communications Strategy on Female Genital Mutilation 2017-2021, convened by Women’s Bureau with technical support from UNICEF.
Half of the women and girls, who have been cut, as contained in the report, live in three countries namely, Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
“Girls 14 and younger represent 44 Million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM/C among this age in The Gambia at 56 percent, Mauritania 54 percent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have undergone the practice.”
Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49, the report added, are Somalia 98%; Guinea 97% and Djibouti 93%.
“In most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before reaching their fifth birthday. The report also shows that momentum to address the practice is growing. However, FGM prevalence rates among girls aged 15 to 19 have declined, including by 41 percent in Liberia, 31 in Burkina Faso, 30 in Kenya and 27 in Egypt over the last 30 years”.
The report added that the practice is found in 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as in parts of the Middle East and Asia, plus Europe, USA and Australia among the many other countries where migrants carry along their culture.
Situation in Gambia
“In The Gambia, years of advocacy with policy-makers, religious leaders and various shareholders, resulted in the finalization of both a draft Bill and a National Action Plan against FGM/C. The proposed bill was developed through a collaborative effort involving 7000 people from the grassroots level including women, men and youth, religious and traditional leaders as well as security officials”.
In November 2015, the former president made a proclamation banning the practice in the country. This was swiftly followed by the provisions of the Women’s Act of 2012 expressing ban and criminalizing the practice in the country with stiff penalties.
Suffice it to state that more people speaking against the practice are key to getting government to pass legislation to end the practice.