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Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a human rights violation, a form of violence and discrimination against girls and women. It is most often carried out on girls between infancy and age 15, though adult women are also subjected.

Female genital mutilation in Africa

An estimated 55 million girls under the age of 15 in 28 African countries have experienced or are at risk of experiencing FGM, which remains prevalent in parts of West, East, Central, and Northern Africa. This, despite the fact that laws against FGM are most common in the African continent where 28 countries have specific anti-FGM laws or legal provisions.

The move to end FGM in Africa has over the years gained traction on the continent with state and non-state actors at the international, regional, and national levels coalescing around actions designed to address this harmful practice.

These efforts have seen African governments commit to the global goal of ending FGM by 2030 in addition to launching a continental drive aimed at promoting and accelerating the collective abandonment of FGM at the community level through the development and enforcement of comprehensive anti-FGM laws; increasing and allocating resources to end FGM, and strengthening partnerships geared towards this.

Similarly, women’s rights defenders in Africa have banded together and are playing their part in contributing to the anti-FGM movement by holding states to account and exposing gaps that continue to put women and girls at risk of FGM. While some of them have been working under the auspices of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) and galvanizing action at the regional and national levels, others such as Hope Beyond Foundation in Kenya have been leading the campaign at the community level.

As recognition of the global prevalence of the practice increases, activists from across the continent are leading the now global movement to end female genital mutilation. In 2020, Burkina Faso submitted a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of the group of African States calling on governments globally to take “comprehensive, multisectoral and rights-based measures to prevent and eliminate female genital mutilation”.

Where are women living with the consequences of female genital mutilation or at risk in Africa? 

FGM in Africa, from Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Call For A Global Response (2020)

Are there laws against female genital mutilation in Africa? 

Laws against female genital mutilation are most common in the African continent. 28 countries in Africa have enacted specific laws or specific legal provisions against female genital mutilation. 

India – UPR Joint Submission 2022

This submission outlines the gaps in protection of the rights of women and girls in India from the harmful practice of FGM/C, provides critical information on the prevalence of FGM/C/Khafz within the country, and provides recommendations on the …

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Sri Lanka – UPR Joint Submission 2022

During the previous UPR cycle, Sri Lanka received 39 recommendations to strengthen and improve measures regarding women’s rights protection. Of these recommendations, 11 related to preventing and eliminating violence against women; including …

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Canada – Committee on the Rights of the Child – 90th Session, May 2022

This submission details our concern about the continued prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Canada and the failure of the Canadian government to take concrete and …

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