Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: U.S. Assistance to Combat This Harmful Practice Abroad Is Limited, GAO-16-485: Published: Apr 27, 2016. Publicly Released: May 19, 2016.
“U.S. and United Nations (UN) studies since 2010 have identified a variety of factors contributing to the persistence of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). In many communities where FGM/C is prevalent, FGM/C is an influential social norm that ensures social acceptance and is commonly perceived as a religious obligation. In addition, medicalization of the practice— when it is performed by health care providers rather than traditional practitioners—increases the perception of legitimacy in some countries. Although the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that many countries where FGM/C is prevalent have passed laws banning the practice, enforcement is a challenge. The studies also have identified key approaches to addressing FGM/C, including efforts to implement community education programs, outreach and training for medical professionals, and the inclusion of FGM/C in broader gender equality and human rights programs…More than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM/C in the 30 countries where available data show this harmful practice is concentrated. More than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM/C annually in Africa. FGM/C comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs. It is rooted in the cultural traditions of many communities but has several adverse health consequences and the UN identifies it as a violation of human rights. In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 that included the elimination of FGM/C among its targets. UNFPA and UNICEF implement the Joint Program on FGM/C in 17 countries—the largest current international assistance effort to address FGM/C. State and USAID include FGM/C as part of their global strategy to respond to gender-based violence.”