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200m women, girls genitally-mutilated – UNWomen

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No fewer than 200 million women and girls have been genitally-mutilated as at 2016, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) has said.

The UN Women stated this in a report on the 2017 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, commemorated on Feb. 6.

“At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting in 30 countries, according to new estimates published on the United Nations’ International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in 2016.

“In most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before age five,” the UN Women agency said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that “Genital Mutilation or Cutting includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

Beyond extreme physical and psychological pain, the practice carries many health risks, including death, according to UN Women.

The UN Women agency also published facts and figures on various forms of violence against women, calling for an end to violence against women and girls.

In 1993, the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women provided a framework for action on the pandemic.

However, UN Women said more than 20 years later, one in three women still experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.

“It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.

“However, some national studies showed that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

“Women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and in some regions, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, as compared to women who have not experienced partner violence.

“Although little data is available – and great variation in how psychological violence is measured across countries and cultures—existing evidence shows high prevalence rates.”

It said 43 per cent of women in the 28 EU Member States have experienced some form of psychological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

It also estimated that of all women who were the victims of homicide globally in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members, compared to less than six per cent of men killed in the same year.

“In 2012, a study conducted in New Delhi found that 92 per cent of women reported having experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces in their lifetime, and 88 per cent of women reported having experienced some form of verbal sexual harassment (including unwelcome comments of a sexual nature, whistling, leering or making obscene gestures) in their lifetime.

“Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children (below 18 years of age). Of those women, more than one in three – or some 250 million – were married before 15 years.

“Child brides are often unable to effectively negotiate safe sex, leaving them vulnerable to early pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

“Around 120 million girls worldwide – slightly more than one in 10 – have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives.”

By far the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends, the report said.

Adult women account for almost half of all human trafficking victims detected globally, it added.

The UN agency said women and girls together accounted for about 70 per cent, with girls representing two out of every three child trafficking victims.

It added that one in 10 women in the EU report has experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15 – including having received unwanted, offensive sexually explicit emails or SMS messages, or offensive, inappropriate advances on social networking sites.

According to the UN agency, the risk is highest among young women between 18 and 29 years of age.

It said while an estimated 246 million girls and boys experience school-related violence every year, one in four girls say that they never feel comfortable using school latrines, according to a survey on youth conducted across four regions.

The extent and forms of school-related violence that girls and boys experience differ, but evidence suggests that girls are at greater risk of sexual violence, harassment and exploitation, it said.

In addition to the resulting adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences, school-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls, the report said.

On measures to address violence against women, the report said in the majority of countries with available data, less than 40 per cent of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort.

Among women who do, most look to family and friends and very few look to formal institutions and mechanisms, such as police and health services, it said.

It added that less than 10 per cent of those women seeking help for experience of violence sought help by appealing to the police.

The UN Women explained that at least 119 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, 125 have laws on sexual harassment and 52 have laws on marital rape.

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