In Mali, an estimated 90% of adolescent girls undergo female genital cutting - also called female genital mutilation or excision. In the past, this was a ritual for adolescent girls. But a recent report by the children's development organisation, Plan Mali, has found that the average age is now less than one year. One of the reasons for this is that individual excisions of infants are easier to hide from the authorities than group initiation ceremonies of teenage girls.
Cutting infants increases the risk of serious physical consequences and health workers report that they are now seeing more and more women with reproductive health complications. Although progress is being made in some areas of Mali to eradicate female genital cutting, in other regions there's been a backlash to abolition efforts.
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