Approximately two-thirds of men, women, boys and girls in countries where female genital mutilation is common say they want the practice to end – according to UNICEF data.
67 percent of girls and women and 63 percent of boys and men oppose the continuation of the practice in their communities (countries with available data), according to the agency.
Francesca Moneti, UNICEF Senior Child Protection Specialist found that although female genital mutilation is associated with gender discrimination, their findings show that the majority of boys and men are actually against it.
“Unfortunately, individuals’ desire to end female genital mutilation is often hidden, and many women and men still believe the practice is needed in order for them to be accepted in their communities,” he said.
According to a statement issued by the agency, data shows that in some countries men oppose FGM more strongly than women.
The statement reads “In Guinea – the country with the second highest prevalence in the world – 38 percent of men and boys are against the continuation of FGM, compared to 21 percent of women and girls”.
The same pattern is seen in Sierra Leone, where 40 percent of boys and men want the practice to end, compared to 23 percent of girls and women.
The most striking difference between men and women’s perceptions regarding FGM is also in Guinea, where 46 percent of men and boys say FGM has no benefit, compared with just 10 percent of women and girls.
The findings also show that in just over half the 15 countries with available data, at least 1 in 3 girls and women say FGM has no benefits. The proportion is very similar among boys and men in all but two of the 12 countries with data.
In addition to a large majority of people opposing the harmful practice where it is concentrated, there is evidence of growing momentum and commitment to end FGM.
In 2015, both Gambia and Nigeria adopted national legislation criminalizing FGM. More than 1,900 communities, covering an estimated population of 5 million people, in the 16 countries where data exists, made public declarations to abandon FGM.
The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 include a target calling for the elimination of all harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage by 2030.