70 Million More Girls Face Genital Mutilation in Next Decade

Nearly 68 million girls face having their genitals mutilated by 2030, according to a new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The organization released its findings on February 6, which marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, commonly known as FGM.

The practice is usually carried out for cultural and religious purposes, and involves the alteration and removal of female genitals.

UNFPA estimated that the current number of 3.9 million girls mutilated each year will increase to 4.6 million by 2030, unless concerted efforts to tackle the phenomenon are in place.

The report linked the estimated increase to population growth in communities that practice FGM.

"The new figures show just how far we have to go to eliminate female genital mutilation," said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

"The good news is we know what works. Greater political will, community engagement and targeted investments are changing social norms, practices and lives. We need to quickly step up these efforts to make good on our collective pledge to end female genital mutilation by 2030.

"UNFPA remains committed to supporting communities in fighting to end this harmful practice, which has no place in the 21st century," continued Kanem.

Members of African Gay and Lesbian communities demonstrate against female genital mutilation, 23 January 2007 at the Nairobi World Social Forum venue in Kasarani, Nairobi. Some 46,000 participants are attending the seventh edition of the World Social Forum taking place this week in Kenya, organisers said Monday as hundreds of youths protested registration charges. Organisers had hoped to attract about 160,000 anti-globalisation activists, but about one third of that figure turned up for the conference that kicked off in Nairobi at the weekend and set to conclude on Thursday. MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

FGM is practiced worldwide, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and some American countries.

The UN defined the practice as a human right violation and, and "an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls."

It also warned that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.

Haemorrhage and infection deriving from the practice can cause girls, usually under the age of 15, to die.

Long-term consequences include recurrent bladder or urinary tract infections, cystits, infertility, childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

In August 2015, Somalia announced intentions to implement a nationwide ban on FGM.

The practice has been also outlawed in another 18 African countries, including Benin, Central African Republic, Egypt and South Africa.