UN says fewer girls subject to female circumcision

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations says new data shows that fewer girls are being subjected to female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women's sexuality and enhances fertility.

The U.N. children's agency UNICEF and the U.N. Population Fund released the new data Wednesday, the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.

In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where the practice is concentrated, the U.N. said an average of 36 percent of girls aged 15-19 have been cut, compared to an estimated 53 percent of women aged 45-49.

In Kenya, for example, women aged 45-49 are three times more likely to have been cut than girls aged 15-19, the U.N. said.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.