What is female genital mutilation (FGM),

What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?

What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is any procedure where the female genitals organs are injured or changed for non-medical reasons. It is a harmful traditional practice involving the cutting or removal of the external female genitalia. FGM is also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision. Different communities use a variety of terminologies to refer to FGM as per this list of terminologies

Types of FGM

According to WHO, female genital mutilation is classified into these four major types:

Type I

Clitoridectomy: The partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).

Type II

Excision: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).

Type III

Infibulation: This is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal which is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

Type IV

Other: Any other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterisation of the genital area.

Prevalence and statistics

Where does FGM happen?

FGM has been documented in at least 30 countries with the highest prevalence in Africa and in some parts of the Middle East and Asia. It is also common among African and Asian communities in the diaspora around the world.

What are the FGM statistics?

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM with another 3 million girls at risk of undergoing FGM every year. In the UK, approximately 137,000 girls and women are living with the consequences of FGM.

Why does FGM continue to happen

When and where did FGM start?

FGM has been practiced for over 2,000 years and although it is not certain where and why it was first practiced, it is thought that to have originates from the present-day Sudan and Egypt region.

At what age is FGM performed?

It has been in existence for over 2,000 years and is performed on girls ranging from birth, up to just before marriage, and sometimes beyond. The majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old. 

Why is FGM performed?

It is often mistakenly believed that FGM is performed for religious reasons. However, FGM pre-dates most of the major faiths in the world today and is not required or recommended by any religion. Many complex reasons propagate the continuity of FGM today and they reflect both the history and current circumstances of the communities in which it takes place. There are multiple reasons and explanations cited for the continued practice of FGM.

Factors contributing to the continuity of FGM

* It makes the girl/woman cleanliness and is hygienic

* Offers community and social acceptance

* It is a part of family expectations and to maintain family honour

* It is a process of preparing girls for womanhood and to enable them to have good marriages

* It helps to preserve virginity and chastity

* It is perceived to have traditional and/or religious values

To learn more about FGM, the myths and facts surrounding it, understand it’s prevalence, practice, impact and why and how to end it, join our Female Genital Mutilation courses and community programmes.  

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Mojatu Foundation transforms communities through training, media, community engagement and health initiatives, especially tackling female genital mutilation.