Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

This week we want to talk with you about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). As difficult it is to talk about it, as necessary it is to spread awareness. From cultural practices to major health consequences, read all about female genital mutilation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines female genital mutilation/cutting (FMG/C) as the removal (partial or total) of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FMG is internationally recognized as a form of discrimination and violation of human rights of girls and women.

FGM can be classified into 4 categories:

  • Type 1. Partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris) and/or the clitoral hood (the fold of skin that covers the clitoral glans)

  • Type 2. Partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora with/without the removal of labia majora

  • Type 3. Infibulation: narrowing the vaginal opening by covering a part of it. The covering is made by cutting, repositioning and stitching the labia minora or labia majora. This process can be accompanied or not by the removal of the clitoral glans and hood

  • Type 4. Other harmful procedures that involve female genitalia: piercing, scraping, incising and cauterizing

Deinfibulation refers to cutting open the covered part of the vaginal opening of a woman that has undergone infibulation. This reverted practice is necessary in order to improve health and facilitate intercourse and childbirth.

FGM Facts

  • Between 100-400 million women and girls have undergone FGM and every year 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing FMG

  • Most girls undergo this procedure before the age of 14

  • It has no health benefits and causes damage to physical and psychological health

  • It is common in religious and non-religious groups

  • It is predominantly performed in Africa, Asia and the Middle East but due to migration the practice of FGM has spread around the globe

  • According to United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF ) approximately 130 million of women and girls are estimated to live with FGM worldwide, which are located in 29 countries. These numbers are only estimates, as the nature of this subject is sensible and perceived as a taboo, partly due to the legal aspect of this practice. Upon questioning, researchers realized that women who underwent FGM didn’t even know exactly what happened during this practice. So they were aware that they were subject to FGM but din’t know what it implied.

  • A study conducted in 2011, found that in England and Wales alone approximately 130’000 women and girls underwent FGM. They originated from countries where this practise is a tradition.

  • In case of infibulation, irritative substances or herbs may be introduced into the vagina to cause bleeding for the purpose of narrowing the vagina.

FGM health consequences

Female Genital Mutilation is a dangerous practice that frequently results in complications. It is estimated that 1 of 3 girls and women develop complications, either short or long t