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Female Circumcision Rampant in Africa

, evidence that deliveries among women who have been subjected to FGM are significantly more likely to be complicated and dangerous,' Ms Phumaphi said.

The results of the study are especially important to protect communities in the future. While many African countries have passed laws against FGM, the WHO says they are not being properly enforced. FGM is practised in 28 countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. One hundred million women worldwide have undergone the procedure, which happens to three million girls under 10 every year. It is carried out by both Christian and Muslim communities.

According to community officer, Enshrah Ahmed. 'The whole thing is that it’s surrounded in secrecy, so it’s very difficult to catch people.' Ms Ahmed said women’s sexuality was not readily discussed in the affected communities and so the problem seldom addressed. This had made it very difficult to know how many girls had been circumcised, let alone who was to blame, she said.

The study has shown the pressing need to raise awareness about the health and legal issues about female genital mutilation among the communities practicing it. 'All medical personnel must be trained in cultural sensitivity and how to meet the needs of women who have undergone female genital mutilation.'

Dr Toubia is founder and president of Research, Action and Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women (Rainbo) - an international organization that promotes and protects all aspects of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly in Africa. Rainbo estimates that, globally, at least two million girls are at risk of genital mutilation each year - approximately 6,000 a day. -
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