Up to 68 million girls could have their genitalia cut between 2015 and 2030, new research by the United Nations Population Fund indicates.
According to current estimates, up to 3.9 million girls undergo female genital cutting or mutilation each year, and the number is projected to rise to 4.6 million by 2030, in the absence of efforts to prevent it.
"The new figures show just how far we have to go to eliminate female genital mutilation,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, in a statement marking February 6 International Day of Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation.
“The good news is we know what works. Greater political will, community engagement, and targeted investments are changing social norms, practices and lives. We need to quickly step up these efforts to make good on our collective pledge to end female genital mutilation by 2030."
The increase is due to projected population growth in communities that practice mutilation. Over 200 million women live with female genital mutilation today.
The new numbers come from generating age-specific risk data for mutilations, including Indonesia where data on more than one million girls mutilated in their first year of life have never been captured.
The data were then combined with United Nations world population estimates to project overall risk.
Although the risk of a girl being mutilated is about one-third lower than it was three decades ago, more of them will face mutilation as girls’ populations increase.
“UNFPA remains committed to supporting communities in fighting to end this harmful practice, which has no place in the 21st century,” said Kanem.