More than 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have suffered from genital cutting and other types of mutilation, UNICEF said this week in the most comprehensive and quantitative survey to date. Nearly half of those women live in Egypt and Ethiopia, where the practice is still entrenched in the culture.
"It's seen as tradition — something that has just always been there," UNICEF's Francesca Moneti said. "It's just like how we get up in the morning and get dressed. Your daughter reaches the age of cutting, and she just gets cut."
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to bring Israeli and Palestinian officials to Washington to discuss a possible resumption of peace talks. Kerry announced on Friday that the two sides have tentatively agreed to preliminary talks but when and if actual peace negotiations will occur is uncertain. White House spokesman Jay Carney said yesterday he hopes the parties will be in Washington in the coming weeks.
Israel said Saturday that it's prepared to release a number of Palestinian prisoners following a breakthrough in talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Yuval Steiniz, Israel's intelligence and strategic affairs minister, said the release would involve "heavyweight prisoners in jail for decades". He said the prisoners would be freed soon. (Note: the translation used by The Associated Press has it as "hardcore" instead of "heavyweight").
Nothing ever seems to come easy in the Middle East, but Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there was "a basis" for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which would be the first such talks in several years.
Kerry made the announcement in Amman, Jordan, after a series of discussions with Palestinian and Arab leaders.
"We have reached an agreement that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Kerry said. "This is a significant and welcome step forward."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced a last-minute trip to the West Bank this morning that's intended to jump-start stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
The trip comes just hours after the Palestinians said they would not return to the negotiating table unless Israel agreed to begin talks using the borders that existed before 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.