UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Nearly 2,000 African communities abandoned female genital mutilation last year, prompting calls for a global push to end the practice, a U.N. report indicated.
The report issued by the U.N. Population Fund and the U.N. Children's Fund said the number of communities renouncing the practice has reached 8,000 in the last few years, the United Nations said Monday in a release.
"These encouraging findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women," said U.N. Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.
The report was released Monday, which also is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.
"We call on the global community to join us in this critical effort. Together, we can abolish [the practice] in one generation and help millions of girls and women to live healthier, fuller lives," Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a joint statement.
Female genital mutilation refers to the practice of cutting away part or all of a girl's external genitalia. The practice, recognized globally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, has no health benefits, causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences, several U.N. agencies said.