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Where is it practiced?

WHO estimates that between 100 million and 140 million women and girls worldwide have been subjected to FGM. Three million girls and women a year are at risk of mutilation - approximately 8000 girls per day. It has been documented mainly in Africa (in 28 countries), and in a few countries in the Middle East (e.g. Yemen, Kurdish communities, Saudi Arabia), Asia and among certain ethnic groups in Central and South America. Anecdotal evidence and case studies show that FGM is now being encountered in various European countries as well.

Prevalence rates in Africa vary between countries. Countries with high prevalence rates (> 85%) are for example Somalia, Egypt and Mali. Low prevalence rates (< 30%) are found in for example Senegal, Central African Republic and Nigeria.

Prevalence rates also vary within countries and regions; the decisive criteria being ethnicity. For example, of the 23 percent of Yemeni women who have undergone FGM procedures, the figure rises to 69% in the sparsely-populated Red Sea and Aden coastal regions, compared with 15 percent in the heavily-populated highlands and five percent in plateau and desert regions (DHS Survey 1997).

Some studies have also been done on the prevalence of FGM among Iraq's Kurdish communities. Amnesty International produced a report in April 2010 entitled Iraq: Civilians Under Fire. This report mentions the prevalence of FGM and the recommends banning of this practice.

  • Read Amnesty International's report Iraq: Civilians Under Fire here
  • Read Iraq: Decades of Suffering, a report from February 2005 by Amnesty International on the various forms of violence against women in Iraq, including FGM here

Human Rights Watch produced a detailed report in June 2010 on the practice of FGM in Iraq's northern territories, known as Kurdistan. The report recommends action by the Iraqi government, the Kurdish regional authorities, civil society and international donors.

  • Read the Human Rights Watch report "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing" here
  • For a comprehensive overview of FGM, see the Fact Sheet on Female Genital Mutilation developed by WHO.
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