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UNICEF Says Female Genital Cutting Can Be Ended Within One Generation

A new report by UNICEF says female genital cutting can be eradicated within a single generation – with greater global support.

Up to 130 million girls and women in 28 sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East undergo the practice. Its purpose is to enforce chastity and enhance their honor, social status, and availability for marriage. But human rights activists condemn it, citing the dangers, which include prolonged bleeding, infection, and loss of sexual pleasure. Activists say often the procedure is performed on young girls who are not given a choice in the matter.

The UNICEF report is called “Changing a Harmful Social Convention: Female Genital Cutting.” It looks at the social issues that have perpetuated the practice -- and at progress in the effort to end it.

Molly Melching is the executive director of Tostan, a group in Senegal that helps educate communities about its dangers. She told reporter William Eagle that ending it can only be done through community discussion and consensus – a process facilitated by her group.