What is Female genital mutilation?

What is Female genital mutilation?

Female genital mutilation_ichhori.webp

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that has been carried out in different cultures for centuries. It is a harmful and painful practice that involves the partial or complete removal of a woman's external genitalia. This practice is mainly done on young girls, often without their consent, and it can have severe long-term physical and psychological effects.

Despite its illegality in many countries, FGM continues to be a prevalent issue globally, affecting millions of women and girls. In this article, we will explore the various forms of FGM, its prevalence, its effects, and the efforts being made to combat this harmful practice.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

FGM refers to the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or another injury to the female genital organs, for non-medical reasons. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types:

Type I: Clitoridectomy – This involves the partial or complete removal of the clitoris.

Type II: Excision – This involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora.

Type III: Infibulation – This is the most extreme form of FGM and involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora, and part or all of the labia majora. The remaining tissue is then stitched or fused together, leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to pass through.

Type IV: Other – This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, such as pricking, piercing, scraping, or burning.

Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation

FGM is prevalent in many parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. According to UNICEF, an estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, and an additional 4.1 million are at risk each year. The practice is also found in some communities in Europe, North America, and Australia, primarily among immigrant populations.

FGM is often carried out in secret, making it challenging to obtain accurate data on its prevalence. However, the WHO estimates that over 90% of women in Somalia, Guinea, and Djibouti have undergone FGM.

Reasons for Female Genital Mutilation

FGM is often seen as a rite of passage and a prerequisite for marriage in many communities. It is believed to be necessary to preserve a girl's virginity, promote hygiene, and ensure that she is pure and clean. In some communities, FGM is also believed to enhance fertility, and failure to undergo the procedure can bring shame to the family.

However, FGM has no medical benefits and can cause severe physical and psychological harm. The practice can cause severe pain, bleeding, infection, and even death. It can also lead to complications during childbirth, including prolonged labor, fistula, and even stillbirth.

Efforts to Combat Female Genital Mutilation

FGM is recognized as a violation of human rights and is illegal in many countries worldwide. However, the practice persists due to deeply ingrained cultural and social beliefs. To combat FGM, there is a need for a multi-sectoral approach that involves education, legislation, and community mobilization.

Education and Awareness

Education and awareness are critical in ending FGM. Governments, NGOs, and community leaders need to raise awareness of the harmful effects of FGM and promote alternative rites of passage. Educating girls and their families about their rights can also help to prevent the practice.


Many countries have enacted laws prohibiting FGM. However, enforcement remains a challenge. Governments need to strengthen their legal frameworks and enforce penalties for those who practice or promote FGM.

Previous Post Next Post