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Teens Still At Risk But FGM Rate Goes Down in Africa: Research

Although girls under 14 are most at risk, research should include those aged 15 to 19

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FILE - A T-shirt warns against female genital mutilation. Its wearer attends an event, discouraging harmful practices such as FGM, at a girls high school in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has dropped drastically among African children this century, research shows, but campaigners said Wednesday that teenagers and young women remained at risk of the harmful practice.

Known as FGM, female genital mutilation is a ritual that usually involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, including the clitoris.

Cutting is a rite of passage in many societies, often with the aim of promoting chastity. It can cause chronic pain, menstrual problems, recurrent urinary tract infections, cysts and infertility. Some girls hemorrhage to death or die from infections. It can also cause fatal childbirth complications in later life.

FGM
Amran Mahamood used to circumcise young girls in Hargeysa, Somalia, but stopped after a religious leader convinced her the rite was not required by Islamic law. VOA

Analyzing data spanning more than 20 years, BMJ Global Health said in a study there was a “huge and significant decline” in FGM in children under 14 across Africa.

East Africa had the biggest fall in its prevalence rates, dropping to 8 percent in 2016 from 71 percent in 1995, according to the BMJ study published Tuesday.

In north Africa, prevalence rates fell to 14 percent in 2015 from nearly 60 percent in 1990, the report said; west Africa dropped to about 25 percent in 2017, from 74 percent in 1996.

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, estimates that 200 million women and girls globally have undergone FGM, with the highest prevalence in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

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Maasai girls and a man watch a video on a mobile phone prior to the start of a social event advocating against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya. VOA

More to the story

Campaigners welcomed the drop but said FGM also affects teenagers and young women, demographic groups outside the study.

“We are pleased to see that the numbers are coming down in a lot of countries,” said Emma Lightowlers, a spokeswoman for campaign group 28TooMany, which does research on FGM in Africa. “But it doesn’t tell the whole story and there are other groups where cutting takes place after the age of 14. It takes place in teenagers, or in fact, even in women in preparation for marriage,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Female Genital Mutilation, FGM
A badge reads “The power of labor against FGM” is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 6, 2018. (VOA)

Julia Lalla-Maharajh, founder of the Orchid Project, which campaigns against female genital cutting, agreed.

“Growing efforts to end the practice are having an impact [but] girls in this group may still be cut when they get older,” she said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Also Read: The Next Big Advance in Technology May Come From Africa

Although girls under 14 are most at risk, research should include those aged 15 to 19, said British-based charity Forward, which supports FGM survivors from African communities.

“This data should not make us complacent to say that all those girls are risk-free,” said Naana Otoo-Oyortey, head of Forward. “We need to work towards ensuring these girls are supported and protected from FGM.” (VOA)

Next Story

Resist, Insist, Persist Because The Future is Female

In addition to Washington rally, Sister marches took place in multiple cities including New York City, Los Angeles and many more across the world.

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Women's March
People hold an American flag during the second annual Women's March in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

By Vishvi Gupta

“Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as ‘being quiet”, says Alexandria Ocaso Cortez, Representative of the Bronx and New York while rallying in the women’s march in New York City.

The United States of America woke up on 19th January and saw thousands of women March for gender equality and bring pressing issues like the partial shutdown, Trump’s border wall and women’s reproductive rights to the light.

‘The crowd stretches so far that there’s no room left to march’ is how the first Women’s March was described when it was first held in 2016. Thousands of women marched together to show solidarity in lieu of  ‘Anti-Trump Sentiments’, a day after Donald Trump swore in as the President.

Women’s March of 2017 inspired millions to run, to vote and dozens to win elections. A women’s wave swept away the U.S. this midterm election, with record number of women being elected as representatives of the house. The wave, however, did not end there and brought together people of different color, races, sexualities and abilities during the rally which took place across the country.

Women’s March Disability Coordinator, Mia Ives-Rublee says,” My hope is to continue to talk about how these different identities interact, how we can support each other, and how its so important that we are able to talk about disabilities, especially in Asian-American Communities”.

This year’s march is different because the organizers of the march are pushing aheead with a solid agenda. There are really specific policy demands which are crafted by a policy table of 50-70 women who are movement and policy experts.

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People carrying signs join hundreds of demonstrators in the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

Even after the recent disputes surrounding the leaders of the women’s march regarding  the allegations of anti-Semitism, many women turned up not wanting to lose a seat at the table and to make sure that anti-Semitism is something that is addressed.

Also Read: Women In Afghanistan Fear Recurring Oppression If Taliban Becomes Part Of The Government

In addition to  the Washington rally, Sister marches took place in multiple cities including New York City, Los Angeles and many more across the world.

“We are going to shut down your disrespect of women and girls”, said Women’s Right Attorney Gloria Allerd and stimulated the crowd to: Resist, Insist and Persist.