Research released earlier this week by the British Medical Journal (BMJ)has suggested there have been significant decline in female genital cutting (FGC) prevalence rates amongst girls aged 0-14 across East, North and West Africa.
Analyzing data spanning more than 20 years, BMJ Global Health revealed that 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.
While In North Africa, prevalence rates fell to 14 percent in 2015 from nearly 60 percent in 1990, and in West Africa it dropped to about 25 percent in 2017, from 74 percent in 1996.
The trends identified by this study are promising according to campaigners, and while apparent significant declines in FGC prevalence suggest that efforts around the world are having an impact, the data does have limitations, and the context-specific nature of how FGC continues must be considered.
“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
Sentiments further echoed by Julia Lalla-Maharajh, founder of the Orchid Project, which campaigns against female genital cutting
“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.
This coming in the wake of earlier statistics done by UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, that estimates that 200 million women and girls globally have undergone FGM, with the highest prevalence in Africa and parts of the Middle East.
For FGC to end globally, campaigners say we need commitment, leadership and policy from global leaders, research that shows the true scale of the issue around the world