British public say FGM is a top women’s rights concern | ActionAid UK

British public say FGM is a top women’s rights concern

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One in two (53%) people say that female genital mutilation (FGM) is one of their top women’s rights concerns, coming in above equal pay and employment opportunities (32%) and access to childcare (11%) in a list of nine key women’s rights issues, according to new research by ActionAid UK1

The GB-wide YouGov poll of 2,000 adults, which asked to choose the three issues they cared most about facing women and girls around the world from a list, is being launched as part of ActionAid’s work on International Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation Day (6th Feb).

The research reveals that concern for this extreme practice is on the rise, with two in five (41%) saying they are more concerned about the issue than they were five years ago.

Female genital mutilation is the practice of partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and is often practiced for cultural reasons. Despite being an illegal practice in most countries around the world, it is estimated that between 100 million to 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation.

One of the most common countries in which cutting is practiced is Somaliland, with 98% of women affected. In the UK, despite being illegal, rates have been on the rise, with latest figures suggesting there could be 5,000 new cases of FGM in the UK every year2.

Himaya Quasem, Editorial & Stories Officer at ActionAid UK, who recently returned from a trip to Somaliland, says:

“Female genital mutilation is an excruciatingly painful practice that denies girls their basic human rights and can have devastating physical and psychological consequences for the rest of their lives.

“Rates in Somaliland are amongst the highest in the world, where almost all girls have been forced to endure this devastating practice.”

ActionAid is working directly with communities to educate them about the damaging impact of female genital mutilation. Education is a vital tool to help unpick traditional cultural reasons for subjecting women and girls to female genital mutilation.

In Somaliland ActionAid has reached over 31,000 people through our work in schools, communities and with religious leaders.3

Find out more about ActionAid’s work to #endFGM.


Notes to editor:

For interviews, photos and more information please contact Cora Bauer at ActionAid on Tel: +44 (0)203 122 0767 ; Mob: +44 (0)778 789 7467 or

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2001 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between  27th - 28th January 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  3. *Source information gathered from project reports from The Adelman Foundation 2013-15

Photo credit: Jennifer Huxta / ActionAid