The United Nations has called for an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030. FGM is primarily practiced in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the most extreme forms of which are prominent in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti.
Mónica Ferro, the director of the Geneva office of the United Nations Population Fund, explained to Voice of America that FGM has no medical benefits and inflicts life-long physical and psychological damage. It can lead to complications during birth, as well as infections, infertility, and sometimes even death, Ferro said, and results in increased health-care spending. The World Health Organization says it is as high as 30% of the health budget in some countries.
The UN estimates that about 200 million women and girls currently live with the consequences of FGM, and a further 61 million girls are expected to undergo the procedure from now until 2030.
Progress has been made in countries where the UN is present to educate against and prevent FGM. Support for the ritual practice is declining sharply, especially among young women aged fifteen to nineteen, which could pave the way for the practice to die out entirely within a generation or two.