Support for female circumcision declining in Africa, study shows
Some experts thought it was so embedded in traditional culture that it would never change. But new evidence shows that African countries have made surprising progress in reducing the rate of female genital cutting, a controversial and often illegal practice that can cause lifelong injury and illness to girls and women.
The procedure is a rite of passage for young girls in many ethnic groups in Africa and some parts of Asia and the Middle East. Millions of girls are cut or mutilated in Africa every year. In total, an estimated 70 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have endured genital cutting.
But now the trend is shifting. In countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya, female genital cutting has become less common in the past decade. And in other countries such as Sudan and Egypt, surveys are finding that the practice has declining support from ordinary people in many communities, thanks to intense educational campaigns.
A new study, to be released Wednesday by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, explains how these educational campaigns have succeeded in weakening the popularity of a practice that is considered a violation of human rights and a severe health risk.