A new study revealed that the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice, locally known as Khatne or Sonat, is prevalent in at least four major provinces of Iran.

The study, "A Comprehensive Research Study on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Iran 2015," authored by London-based British-Iranian social anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, was released Thursday. That day, June 4, was also International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, according to The Guardian.

"FGM is practiced in Iran in some cases to tame girls' sex drive before marriage—it is made to preserve their chastity," Ahmady told The Guardian.

The Iranian government has largely ignored the practice and failed to take appropriate actions. "The attitude of officials and authorities is that FGM doesn't exist in Iran. The Iranian public is also largely ignorant about the subject," he also said.

Ahmady found that FMG is more prevalent in the southern province of Hormozgan but is also being practiced in Kurdistan, Kermanshah and West Azerbaijan.

The study, based on interviews with around 3,000 Iranian women who experienced FGM, said that FGM is majorly practiced among the Shafi'i sect of Sunni Muslim Iranians, a minority in the Shiite-dominated Asian country, reported the Al Arabiya news channel.

"I returned to Iran in 2005 to study FGM in my home country and, instantly, I was shocked to discover that it even happened to the closest members of my own family and relatives. In fact, many in Iran don't have a clue that [FGM] is being practiced in some parts of the country," Ahmady said, according to The Guardian.

FGM remains prevalent in about 30 countries across Africa and Asia, with most cases reported in Somalia (98 percent of girls experienced FGM) and Guinea (96 percent), according to Newsweek Europe. The age-old practice involves partial or total removal of external parts of the female genitalia and continues to affect millions of girls between the ages of 4 and 12.