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An amazing case of informed ignorance

29.10.2013. UNFPA und UNICEF just organized a high-level conference on female genital mutilation in Rome from October 21st to 25th. We took this as an opportunity to search for UNFPA statements on FGM in the Middle East and found this amazing piece in the Muscat Daily. In the article under the headline “FGM practiced in Oman; cases not ‘alarmingly’ high“, UNFPA representative of the sub-regional office for GCC-states, Asr Ahmed Toson, takes a wild guess: “Even though we have no data about Oman yet, I think FGM/C is not a serious issue compared to other countries and for that reason, it is not on our radar at this point of time. As an example, FGM/C is practiced much more in Egypt than in Oman.”

You can’t contest his facts. He is right: There is no reliable data about Oman, only a lot of evidence, some anecdotal, some quite profound – among them a Five-Year-Plan by the Ministry of Health which mentions the elimination of FGM as a target. Mr. Toson is most probably also right when pointing out that FGM is practiced much more in Egypt.

But you wonder how serious an issue must become to be on UNFPA’s radar. Egypt has one of the highest FGM rates in the world with 97 percent of women being cut. Since Oman is a multi-cultural society with people originating from India, Iran, Africa, Yemen and many Omanis having lived abroad, it would be very unlikely that all these different groups practice FGM. However, some do as Dr Nafissatou J Diop, coordinator of the joint UNFPA-UNICEF programme on FGM/C told the Muscat Daily. If these groups who practice FGM only make up 50 percent of the population in Oman would this not be alarming? (by Stop FGM Middle East)