Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a global problem.

There are an estimated 200 million women and girls all over the world currently living with its effects, of which 44 million are below the age of 15. A further 3 million are still expected to be cut every single year.

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FGM refers to the non-medical procedure that partially or totally removes the external female genitalia — with extremely harmful health consequences. Survivors have reported serious issues with sex, urination, menstruation, pregnancy, and more.

It’s often seen by practicing communities as a ceremony of purification, to prepare daughters for marriage. But ultimately, it is the attempt of a patriarchal society to control female sexuality — and a serious human rights violation, according to the UN.

It is not tied to any specific religion — it’s practiced across Islamic and Christian countries but is not referred to in the Quran or the Bible.

And predominantly, FGM affects young girls.

In most countries, the majority of girls were cut before the age of five. However in Yemen, 85% of girls face it within the first week of their life. In England and Wales, an estimated  137,000 women and girls have undergone FGM.

Read More: Africa’s First Female President Bans FGM on Her Last Day in Office

Although there has been a sharp decline in young girls being cut in the last three decades, population growth means that it’s expected to increase significantly.  

These are the eight countries where over 80% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM, according a 2016 report by UNICEF.

1. Somalia

Population: 14.3 million

Prevalence: 98%

How many women think it should end: 33%

2. Guinea

Population: 12.4 million

Prevalence: 97%

How many women think it should end: 21%

3) Djibouti

Population: 942,000

Prevalence: 93%

How many women think it should end: 51%

4) Sierra Leone

Population: 7.4 million

Prevalence: 90%

How many women think it should end: 23%

5) Mali

Population: 18 million

Prevalence: 89%

How many women think it should end: 20%

6) Egypt

Population: 95.7 million

Prevalence: 87%

How many women think it should end: 38%

7) Sudan

Population: 39.6 million

Prevalence: 87%

How many women think it should end: 53%

8) Eritrea

Population: 4.5 million

Prevalence: 83%

How many women think it should end: 82%

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Demand Equity

Where Does Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Happen The Most?

By James Hitchings-Hales