The Washington-based organization "Reference Population Bureau" published a new study on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which "suggests that the share of women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is declining in many countries, with girls less likely to be cut than previous generations of women."
This study "provides the latest data on the practice in 29 developing countries with representative and comparable data—although FGM/C occurs worldwide."
The full report can be downloaded here.
This article was published on Population Bureau Reference's website in February 2017.
Cutters turn counselors to fight female genital mutilation in Benin
By Anne Mireille Nzouankeu
COTONOU, Benin (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Browsing a market in Parakou, a city in Benin, 63-year-old Yon Sokogi was troubled by the latest gossip about a teenage bride rejected by her husband after she lost control of her bladder.
Recognizing this as a complication of female genital mutilation (FGM), Sokogi decided to visit 19-year-old Kpaaré, a mother-of-two, in the hope of convincing her go to a hospital.
But Sokogi is not a typical health worker.
She is a cutter-turned-counselor, who put down the knife five years ago - after cutting more than 1,500 girls during a 20-year period - to instead work towards stamping out FGM.
"I did it with a knife, without anesthesia, and without any medical training," Sokogi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, explaining how her mother had trained her to help carry out FGM in their village. "The number of lives I shattered is enormous."
The practice was criminalized in 2003 in the tiny West African nation of Benin, where one in 11 women and girls have been cut - a rate which has almost halved since 2000 - according to data from the U.N. children's agency (UNICEF).
However, an adviser to Benin's first lady Claudine Talon said last week the practice had gone underground, and warned that up to three in 10 women and girls may have undergone FGM.
Facing the risk of up to 20 years in prison, dozens of women like Sokogi are being persuaded by advocacy groups to put down the knife and retrain as counselors in what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in West Africa.
These counselors try to dissuade parents from cutting their daughters by explaining the harmful effects, and encourage girls suffering complications after undergoing FGM to go to hospital for treatment, rather than turning to traditional healers.
"This is a great first for Benin, and an example that other nations must follow," said Nicolas Biaou, head of Mortiz, one of several grassroots groups which have helped to convert more than 30 cutters to counselors across the country.
This is an excerpt of an article published on Thomson Reuters Foundation's website on February 6, 2017.