UNICEF: 140 Million Women, Girls Suffer Genital Mutilation

Abuja - UNICEF said today that more than 140 million women and girls worldwide have suffered genital mutilation.

A statement issued on behalf of UN agencies in Abuja said that another 3 million girls a year are at risk of undergoing mutilation.

The agencies said that female genital mutilation has damaging effects on the health of women, girls and newborn babies.

'It also violates the rights of women and girls to health, protection and even life, as the procedure sometimes leads to death,' the statement said.

Excessive bleeding and shock are some of the immediate consequences risked by the procedure.

The statement noted that the long-term effects could include chronic pain, infections and trauma: 'Recent studies show that women who have undergone genital mutilation have higher risks for Caesarean sections, longer hospital stays and post-partum haemorrhaging. Their newborn babies have higher death rates during and immediately after birth, as well.'

UNICEF pledged to support governments and communities to end the practice.

'We recognize that traditions are often stronger than law, and legal action by itself is not enough,' the statement said. 'Change must also come from within. This is why it is critical for us to work closely with communities so that they can bring about sustainable social change.'


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DATE: 04/03/2008

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