FGM is child abuse says UN chief

The head of the United Nations Population Fund has told the BBC that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a form of child abuse.

It is the first time Dr Babatunde Osotimehin has described FGM in such terms, adding that the custom was a human rights abuse and needed to be stopped immediately.

The organisation had previously restricted the definition of FGM to being a human rights violation, previously choosing to stop short of labelling it as child abuse.

More than 200 million women and girls around the world are thought to have undergone the procedure, with the UN predicting that another three million are at risk of being subjected to it at some point.

Some countries across Africa are already working to change traditional perceptions of the practice, although it also affects a number of countries in Asia and the Middle East.

Nevertheless it does seem to be a particularly pressing problem in Africa. For example, estimates suggests around one in five women in Kenya have been cut.

Children's charity Unicef has nevertheless claimed that Kenya could still eradicate the practice within the next 15 years.

Discussing the fight against FGM, Dr Osotimehin told the BBC: "There is absolutely no reason to cut anybody, and it seemed to us that it is part of the gender imbalance that has always existed in these communities which are based on patriarchy. I think it's child abuse."ADNFCR-2094-ID-801822073-ADNFCR