Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is any procedure that results in partial or total removal of the external female genitals, or any other injury without a medical reason for it taking place.

It can also be called “cutting” or “female circumcision” and it’s a very painful and serious procedure. It can cause long lasting physical and mental health issues for those affected and it is illegal in the UK.

  • More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been victims of FGM across the world*
  • Each year there are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing FGM*
  • The majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old but it can happen at any age

In some cultures there might be pressure for FGM to be performed however there are no known health reasons why female genital mutilation should be carried out. It can be considered a cultural tradition which is often used as an argument for its continuation.

Figures of power and authority can often contribute to upholding the practice. These include:

  • Community leaders
  • Religious leaders
  • Circumcisers
  • Medical personnel

There are four main types of FGM:

  • Clitoridectomy – removing part or all of the clitoris
  • Excision – removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (the lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (the larger outer lips)
  • Infibulation – narrowing the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia
  • Other harmful procedures to the female genitals, including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning the area

These procedures are often performed by traditional circumcisers or cutters who do not have any medical training, often using knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades. Anaesthetics are not generally used.

FGM is a violation of human rights and is an act of violence. Failure to protect from FGM and assisting FGM to be carried out abroad are both criminal offences.

If you need help support or advice about Female Genital Mutilation please contact us on 0800 107 0726.

* Source – 28toomany.org

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