Unicef: Support needed to end female genital mutilation
- 18 November 2010 Last updated at 07:41 GMT
Unicef: Support needed to end female genital mutilationBy Imogen Foulkes BBC News, GenevaThe Unicef report says progress to reduce female mutilation is slowly being made.
Intervention programmes to end female genital mutilation can only succeed if they address the needs and wishes of the community, a report is to say.
UN children's organisation Unicef is releasing a report on the practice and ways in which communities can be encouraged to end it.
It looks at five African nations and at the prevalence of mutilation elsewhere.
Unicef regards female genital mutilation (FGM) as a major human rights violation.
Girls who suffer it endure pain and, often, years of ill health.Slow change
An estimated three million girls and women in Africa are at risk each year - but interventions from Western aid agencies motivated by outrage are unlikely to succeed, the Unicef report says.
Communities which practise FGM often believe they are doing the best for their daughters, the report points out.
Parents fear their daughters will be ostracised, or remain unmarried if they do not undergo FGM.
In the five African countries surveyed - Egypt, Senegal, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia - the most successful projects aimed at ending FGM built up local trust by reinforcing positive aspects of local culture, and they incorporated development projects into their work with local communities as well.
This takes time, Unicef says, and changing long-standing social behaviour will not happen overnight.
Nevertheless, in each of the five countries, rates of FGM are falling slowly.
Attitudes towards the practice are changing too: increasingly, women say they think the practice should end.
And in communities which have abandoned FGM, parents now say their main reason for doing so is because they want the best for their daughters.