Overview of a population question

Overview of a population question

Olivia Samuel  By the same author

      Anne Solaz  By the same author

      Laurent Toulemon  By the same author

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In 2015, Population launched a new series of annual chronicles coordinated by Dominique Tabutin and devoted to the state of world knowledge on a topical demographic issue. Targeting a broad audience of scientists, students, journalists and more, these chronicles combine factual data with an overview of the theoretical and political aspects of the question in hand. By approaching topical issues in historical perspective, they shed light on their broader context. After a critical description of information sources and measurement tools, an overview of recent research describes ongoing trends and pinpoints social and spatial disparities. A discussion section then explores the political or legal implications of the current and future situation, and the challenges facing researchers.

Following on from the first chronicle by Christophe Guilmoto on the masculinization of births (2-2015), this second contribution by Armelle Andro and Marie Lesclingand focuses on female genital mutilation a topic that raises numerous demographic, medical, social and political questions. These practices are often seen as an ancestral tradition, but researchers, activists and international bodies are challenging this cultural fatalism and disseminating new knowledge about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) on women’s health, and their reproductive health in particular. UNICEF estimates that around 200 million women in the world today have undergone FGM. The practice is very difficult to quantify, however, especially in countries where it is illegal; the sources and estimation methods used are presented in detail by the authors. FGM is practiced not only in parts of Africa, but also in some countries of the Middle East and Asia. It also exists – though many are unaware of the fact – in Northern countries with immigrant communities from affected countries. In this chronicle, the authors analyse the characteristics of the populations concerned by FGM and highlight the public health and human rights issues raised by this practice.

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