THE number of girls undergoing female genital mutilation has dropped dramatically in East Africa over the past two decades, according to a study published in BMJ Global Health.
The study, which looked at rates of FGM among girls aged 14 and under, suggests that prevalence in east Africa has dropped from 71.4% in 1995, to 8% in 2016.
The reported falls in the rates of FGM are far greater than previous studies have suggested.
According to the study in the BMJ, the rates of FGM practised on children have fallen in north Africa, from 57.7% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2015. In west Africa, prevalence is also reported to have decreased from 73.6% in 1996 to 25.4% in 2017.
Unlike many other studies, older teenagers and adult women – who tend to have higher rates of FGM – were not included.
Nafissatou Diop, coordinator of UNFPA-Unicef joint programme, said it was possible that girls included in the study would still undergo FGM at a later point in their teenage years.
Although global FGM rates are falling, she added, increasing numbers of girls will be living in countries where FGM remains prevalent by 2030.
“Because of the demographic trends, the absolute number of girls and women undergoing FGM will continue to increase,” said Diop.