Female circumcision migrating to West: IOM

4th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Female genital mutilation has established itself in Western countries in recent years because of growing migration flows, the head of an international migration agency said on Friday.

"With the growth in migration in recent years, the phenomenon has unfortunately reached Europe (and) the United States," said William Lacy Swing, head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

In an event to mark the international day of "zero tolerance" to female genital mutilation, Swing highlighted European Parliament estimates of 500,000 circumcised women living in Europe.

The IOM estimates that 100-140 million women and girls have suffered from the traditional practice.

Most of the victims are in Africa, with a few cases in Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the Inter Parliamentary Union, an association of world parliaments.

Nonetheless, it is on the wane in "many African countries" including Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ethiopia, according to African anti-circumcision campaign group CIAF.

"It's torture. Knives are used to cut the most sensitive part of the body," said CIAF head Berhane Ras-Work.

Nineteen African and 12 European countries, as well Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, have adopted laws outlawing female genital mutilation.

© 2011 AFP

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