What is female genital mutilation?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure performed on a woman or girl to alter or injure her genitalia for non-medical reasons. It most often involves the partial or total removal of her external genitalia. FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s fundamental human rights.
Why is it practiced?
The reasons behind the practice vary. In some cases, it is seen as a rite of passage into womanhood, while others see it as a way to suppress a woman’s sexuality. Many communities practice genital mutilation in the belief that it will ensure a girl’s future marriage or family honour. Some associate it with religious beliefs, although no religious scriptures require it.
Why is female genital mutilation a risk for girls and women?
FGM has no health benefits and often leads to long-term physical and psychological consequences. Medical complications can include severe pain, prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and even death. It can also lead to increased risk of HIV transmission.
Women who have undergone genital mutilation can experience complications during childbirth, including postpartum haemorrhage, stillbirth and early neonatal death.
Psychological impacts can range from a girl losing trust in her caregivers to longer-term feelings of anxiety and depression as a woman.
Photo Credit: United Nations