Incidents of female genital mutilation (FGM) appear to be declining in the Somaliland and Puntland regions of Somalia, according to a report released Tuesday (April 16th) by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Three-fourths of girls aged 10 to 14 in the Puntland and Somaliland regions have not been circumcised, whereas more than 98% of women aged 15 and above have, the survey found.
UNICEF and its regional partners surveyed more than 9,000 families in Puntland and Somaliland in the 2011 global Multiple-Indicator Cluster Survey. This is the first time the survey included questions on daughters' ages and whether they were circumcised.
The survey did not include southern Somalia, where the federal government is fighting al-Shabaab. Both the Somali federal government and al-Shabaab have banned FGM.
UNICEF Chief of Child Protection in Somalia Sheema Sen Gupta called the findings a promising indicator for long term reductions in the practice, which the UN General Assembly banned in December.
"FGM is practiced just around puberty," Gupta said. "It usually spikes in the [aged] 10 to 14 group and to see that it was at 25%, that was fantastic."