Facts & Figures: The Importance of FGM Data Collection

A common issue in the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation is the lack of figures estimating general but helpful statistics that assist with the strategizing of how best groups, NGOs and organizations can design and implement their objectives to end FGM. The collection of data. Data is at its most essential in the development of effective policies and legislation aswell as allocating funding. Without such figures, the climb to end FGM remains an uphill one.

Data statistics can range many areas including (but not limited) to:

- Number of Women and girls who have undergone FGM per country/region

- Types of FGM most common per region

- Number of girls at current risk per region


Without the correct data, organizations looking to end FGM can be met with difficulty as their implementation of objectives can fall victim to misguidance. Inaccurate or misrepresented data can also lead to detrimental damage in the attempts to end FGM as areas where prevalence could be potentially high could end up being neglected and areas where low, overly attended.

While it is possible to tackle FGM in the EU and worldwide, the first step we need to take is to have a more robust collection of data on the harmful practice.

“There has only been limited measurement of the prevalence of FGM in many Member States. A further issue is that the measurement of prevalence that has been done in different Member States lacks comparability. Measurement of prevalence is vital in stimulating and supporting effective legislation, the development of preventative work and the provision of necessary support services. It is important that prevalence is defined and measured in a manner that ensures that the evidence gathered actually serves appropriate and adequate action on the issue. There are challenges to be met in establishing the prevalence of FGM. Data are lacking and data collection can be particularly sensitive for individuals and communities. A broad focus on prevalence is required that encompasses the risk of FGM as well as actual mutilation and that offers knowledge about those who experience FGM and can identify the experience of second and third generation women and girls whose parents originated from countries where FGM is practised. A multidisciplinary approach to defining and measuring the prevalence of FGM was encouraged, involving statisticians, demographers, experts in geographic information systems and experts in FGM. It was proposed that a broader and more general approach to measuring the prevalence of FGM at EU level could be combined with a diversity of approaches at Member State level that could take advantage of particular data sources available in different jurisdictions.” – EIGE, online discussion report

It should be taken into account that when it comes to the collection of data, it can be difficult to obtain figures through one sstandardized formula. Many are tried and practiced in order to establish a formula – and even then – there is no guarantee it will work everywhere due to cultural differences and desire not to be subject to study due to circumstances. A recent study by End FGM EUs members Terre des Femmes stated the following explanations regarding the table and the protection of endangered girls:

“To calculate the dark statistics of the endangered and affected girls and women living in Germany, the UNICEF percentage figure of affected women in the countries of origin is applied to the number of the girls and women living in Germany. We differentiate twofold: On the one hand by means of the legal age of the girls and women, on the other hand between those, who have been born in Germany and those, who lived part of their life in the country of prevalence. That way we include factors as the dependence on the family and the putative cultural value system.“Presumably endangered“ includes all underage female persons with the respective citizenship, who are currently living in the FRG according to the Federal Statistical Office, “presumably affected“ includes respective women of legal age. While female genital mutilation in the mentioned countries is closely linked to a life event or certain age and,depending on the ethnicity, babies and infants, prepubertal or adolescent girls or bridesare especially endangered, we assume, that in the diaspora the date of the mutilation is determined by an opportunity.

Most of the families in the diaspora identify with the culture and the values of the country of residence. This protects girls who were born here. For want of statistic data and profound estimates we assume, that the number of endangered and affected girls and women is halved per generation. Example: In country A there is a quota of 50%. 1000 girls and women from country A are living in Germany. Thereof 200 children and youth were born in country A, 100 underage were born here. 600 women have migration experience. The families of 100 women lived in the FRG before the birth.”

To read the full report click here.