What is female genital mutilation and where does it happen?

A counsellor shows cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Minia, Egypt. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 February 2019

What is female genital mutilation and where does it happen?

  • FGM typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia
  • It dates back over 2,000 years and is practiced across many cultures and religions

LONDON: World leaders have pledged to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030, but campaigners say the ancient ritual remains deeply entrenched in many places.
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on Wednesday will highlight efforts to end the widely condemned practice thought to affect at least 200 million girls and women globally. Here are some facts:

• FGM dates back over 2,000 years and is practiced across many cultures and religions.
• It is practiced in at least 30 countries, mostly in Africa but also in pockets of the Middle East and Asia.
• FGM typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. In some cases the vaginal opening is sewn up. Other procedures, more common in parts of Asia, include nicking or pricking the clitoris.
• FGM can cause long lasting mental and physical health problems including chronic infections, menstrual problems, infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications.
• Somalia has the world's highest FGM prevalence (98 percent of women have been cut), followed by Guinea, Djibouti, Mali and Sierra Leone.
• Of the 28 countries in Africa where FGM is endemic, 22 have legislation criminalizing FGM, although enforcement is generally weak and prosecutions rare.
• Half of all girls who have undergone FGM or are at risk live in three countries — Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria — all of which have laws against FGM.
• Chad, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan, which are home to 16 million girls, have no law.
• There is an increasing trend for FGM to be carried out by health professionals rather than traditional cutters, particularly in Egypt, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria and Sudan.
• The ritual, often justified for cultural or religious reasons, is underpinned by the desire to control female sexuality.

Recent developments
• Somalia and Somaliland are drafting laws against FGM.
• Despite not yet having a law, Somalia announced its first FGM prosecution last year after a 10-year-old girl died.
• Britain secured its first successful FGM prosecution this month — more than 30 years after outlawing FGM.
• Sierra Leone banned FGM last month as part of a clamp down on the secret societies that practice it, but there are doubts over how it will be enforced.
• A one-year ban on FGM in Liberia expired last month. Campaigners continue to push for a law.

Sources: 28 Too Many, UNICEF

Decoder

What is FGM?

Short for female genital mutilation, FGM is an ancient ritual typically involving the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of women. It is practiced in at least 30 countries, mostly in Africa but also in pockets of the Middle East and Asia. World leaders have pledged to eradicate the practice, which can cause long-lasting mental and physical health problems including chronic infections, menstrual problems, infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications. Of the 28 countries in Africa where FGM is endemic, 22 have legislation criminalizing FGM, although enforcement is generally weak and prosecutions rare.


Britain pledges $227 million annual civilian and food aid to Afghanistan

Updated 24 November 2020

Britain pledges $227 million annual civilian and food aid to Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan is at risk of receiving between 15 percent and 20 percent less funding than it received at the previous donor conference four years ago

GENEVA: Britain said it will pledge $227 million in annual civilian and food aid for Afghanistan at a conference on Tuesday in Geneva where officials from about 70 countries and humanitarian organizations will pledge billions of dollars for the war-torn nation.
Dependent on foreign aid, Afghanistan is at risk of receiving between 15 percent and 20 percent less funding than it received at the previous donor conference four years ago, diplomats say, as governments are under intense pressure to make savings as they ramp up spending to help their own economies recover from impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Withholding funds at this point, diplomats say, could at least provide foreign governments with some leverage to inject a greater sense of urgency into peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives that began in Qatar in September.
Britain, a country with a long and difficult history of involvement in Afghanistan, is the country’s third largest bilateral donor, and the amount being pledged in Geneva will be slightly higher than it pledged at the last donor conference in Brussels four years ago.
The statement issued by the UK Mission to the United Nations and World Trade Organization in Geneva said $207 million would be pledged to support peace and stability in Afghanistan and “improve access to education and vital infrastructure.”
Britain would “also announce an extra $20 million to the United Nations’ World Food Programme” for Afghanistan.
The latest monetary commitment is separate from the $93.32 million security pledge for Afghan forces for 2021, which Britain announced last month.
In Brussels in 2016, Britain had pledged a total of $1 billion for four years, which translated into 187.5 million pounds annually.
At the Brussels conference, Afghanistan obtained total pledges of $15.2 billion for 2017 to 2020, equivalent to $3.8 billion a year.