The practice of fgm is declining in Africa, for children from 0 to 14 years, according to the findings of a new study were published Wednesday in the journal BMJ Global Health . The team of researchers reviewed multiple databases to analyze the frequency of female genital mutilation in twenty-nine countries -27 in Africa plus Yemen and Iraq – between 1990 and 2017. Their sample is composed of 200,000 children from birth to the age of 14 years.

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“The female genital mutilation (fgm) comprises all procedures resulting in partial or total removal of the genitalia for non-medicinal purposes,” defines the world Health Organization (WHO). Female circumcision, the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora with or without excision of the labia majora, corresponds to the type II of female genital mutilation, according to the classification of the organization. They relate to 200 million women and children in the world, according to an estimate of Unicef in 2016.

According to the study of the british journal, it is in Africa Is that the decline of these practices is the highest. A decrease of 7.3% between 1997 and 2014. Their decrease is much slower in north Africa, -4,4% between 1990 and 2015, and in West Africa – 3% between 1996 and 2017. In some countries, as in Mali and Gambia, more than 40% of children undergo genital mutilation every year.

“There is much talk of Africa because it has reliable data”

Africa, however, is not the only continent concerned, foci exist in Asia such as in Malaysia, but also in Europe or in the United States. Half of the mutilated women in the world reside in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia, great absent in this study. “The data on female genital mutilation are most of the time collected from demographic surveys,” says Isabelle Gillette-Faye, sociologist and director-general of the federation Group for the Abolition of Sexual Mutilation, Forced Marriages (GAMS) committed against the sexual mutilation. “The agents who do these studies visit homes and ask women if they are circumcised, and if they have experienced violence… Some african governments to allow such studies but Asia categorically refused”.

In 2013, the indonesian ministry of Health reveals that more than half of girls under the age of 11 years are victims, but without giving figures for girls and women over 11 years. “These are not scientific data, ahead of Isabelle Gillette-Faye. This is not against Asia, we have the same problems with other countries in the Middle East, Latin America and even in France! The governments do not want to get out of figures on this practice is considered barbaric. Finally, we talk a lot of african countries because we have relatively good data for the continent”.

A drop is encouraging

The authors of the study published in the journal BMJ Global Health remain besides themselves conservative. In particular, there is a risk of under-declaration of the share of the populations in countries where the mutilations are prohibited. Their analysis also focuses only on the children. However, in some countries it seems that there is a resurgence of these practices just before the wedding. “British researchers are interested in Uganda and Kenya, confirms the sociologist. The figures for the 0-15 years, we have seen a significant decline. But when you look at the figures of the population aged 15-49 years, five years later, it is not the same downside, as it should be. One of the working hypotheses is that female circumcision is practiced as a rite of passage before marriage”.

The director of the federation of the GAMS, however, these very encouraging results. She puts this down to the account of the education, prevention campaigns but also the political will of the governments. “Burkina Faso, for example, it is the good pupil. The excisions have actually decreased as a result of the government’s policy, which began very early prevention with radio messages broadcast on the radio, in the 70’s. The practice is prohibited, and the spiritual leader of the greater community of Burkina faso, the Mossis, is declared to be against the female circumcision. This would be unthinkable in some countries!”. And adds: “excision is the only sexual violence for which there was a significant drop in”.