The Number of Victims of Female Genital Mutilation is Much Higher Than We Thought

Well, this will ruin your day.

We’ve been underestimating the number of females who are victims of genital mutilation. By at least 70,000,000.


Robin Wright of the New Yorker explains:

A new trove of data — the first survey from Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, plus population growth in other countries where the practice continues, often despite being outlawed — led to the revision. Nearly half of all Indonesian females under the age of twelve have undergone female genital mutilation or cutting, as it’s formally known. The new numbers bump up the worldwide total to at least two hundred million women and girls, alive today, who have undergone genital mutilation — some just a few weeks after birth, the vast majority before the age of ten.

And this is still an underestimate since we just don’t have access to the necessary information from all countries. The blame falls on religion, culture, and tradition.

President Obama issued a statement on the issue last week:

Some people say that [Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting] is a rite of passage — something families do to help prepare girls for adulthood or marriage. In my travels last year, I made clear my view that “there’s no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation.” Just because this is a tradition in some places does not make it right. This practice is harmful, and therefore wrong wherever it occurs.

None of this is done for health reasons. It’s entrenched bullshit that takes a village to overcome. That won’t happen until it’s clear to people everywhere that FGM is a human rights violation in every context.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.