UN: 'New data shows need for urgent action to end FMG, child marriage'

New York, US (PANA) - New data released on Tuesday by UNICEF shows the need for urgent action to end female genital mutilation and child marriage, two practices that affect millions of girls across the globe.

According to the newly-released data, more than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation, also known as FGM, in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.

In addition, it noted that child marriage is widespread, with more than 700 million women alive
today were married as children and more than 1 in 3 or some 250 million were married before
the age of 15.

The new data was released in conjunction with the first-ever Girl Summit, co-hosted in London
by UNICEF and the Government of the United Kingdom, to rally support for accelerate progress to end child marriage and FGM.

Female genital mutilation/cutting refers to a number of practices which involve cutting away
part or all of a girl’s external genitalia.

According to the UN, the practice has no health benefits, causes severe pain and has several
immediate and long-term health consequences, including prolonged bleeding, infection,
infertility and death.

UNICEF also noted that child marriage could lead to a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation,
stating that, girls who marry before they turn 18 are less likely to remain in school and more
likely to experience domestic violence.

It also said that young teenage girls are more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy
and childbirth than women in their 20s; their infants are more likely to be stillborn or die in the
first month of life.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, stated: "The numbers tell us we must accelerate
our efforts and let’s not forget that these numbers represent real lives."

"While these are problems of a global scale, the solutions must be local, driven by communities, families and girls themselves to change mindsets and break the cycles that perpetuate FGM/C and child marriage," Mr. Lake said.

He also added: "We cannot let the staggering numbers numb us, they must compel us to act."

"FGM and child marriage profoundly and permanently harm girls, denying them their right to
make their own decisions and to reach their full potential. They are detriments to the girls
themselves, their families, and their societies.

"Girls are not property, they have the right to determine their destiny. When they do so, everyone benefits," the UNICEF chief stated.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 22July2014

22 july 2014 18:16:12

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