Photo credit: Ed Wray
By Pam Belluck and Joe Cochrane
Female genital cutting has always been seen as an ancient ritual practiced in Africa and to a lesser extent in the Middle East, but a new global assessment documents for the first time that it is widespread in one of the most populous countries in Asia: Indonesia, where almost half the women are estimated to have undergone it.
There has long been anecdotal evidence of the practice there, but the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated Thursday that 60 million women and girls there have been cut based on national survey data collected by the Indonesian government. The addition of Indonesia is largely responsible for raising the global tally of women and girls who have undergone the practice to 200 million from 130 million, and the number of countries where it is concentrated to 30 from 29.
“We knew the practice existed but we didn’t have a sense of the scope,” said Claudia Cappa, a statistics specialist for Unicef, which released the report. She said the new data from Indonesia showed that cutting was not just “an African problem.”
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