Female genital mutilation "FGM"
Gender-Based violence "GBV"
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
FGM logoIt reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. The practice also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.
In July 2018, the Secretary General produced the report Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation. It states that efforts to end these practices should also target the groups of women and girls who are most at risk, in particular those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including refugee and migrant women, women living in rural and remote communities and young girls, so as to leave no one behind. Similarly, the principles of universality and respect for human rights that underpin the 2030 Agenda mandate that stakeholders address female genital mutilation, regardless of individual circumstances, prevailing cultural and social norms, or country of origin or destination.
Every year, 6 February marks the World No-Tolerance Day with female genital mutilation. This day is celebrated as a means of raising awareness about female genital mutilation / cutting and urging people to support ending this practice
This Day also falls under the ongoing Spotlight Initiative, a joint project of the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. One of the specific threads of the Spotlight Initiative targets sexual and gender-based violence, and harmful practices in Sub-Saharan Africa, which include female genital mutilation.
No health benefits, only harm:
FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. Generally speaking, risks increase with increasing severity of the procedure.
Immediate complications can include:
• severe pain
• excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
• genital tissue swelling
• fever
• infections e.g., tetanus
• urinary problems
• wound healing problems
• injury to surrounding genital tissue
• shock
• death.
Long-term consequences can include:
• urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections);
• vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections);
• menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.);
• scar tissue and keloid;
• sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.);
• increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths;
• need for later surgeries: for example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation). Sometimes genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks;
• psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.);
• Health complications of female genital mutilation
Who is at risk?
Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women. More than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East and Asia, as well as among migrants from these areas. FGM is therefore a global concern.

Cultural and social factors for performing FGM:
The reasons why female genital mutilations are performed vary from one region to another as well as over time, and include a mix of sociocultural factors within families and communities. The most commonly cited reasons are:
1. Where FGM is a social convention (social norm), the social pressure to conform to what others do and have been doing, as well as the need to be accepted socially and the fear of being rejected by the community, are strong motivations to perpetuate the practice. In some communities, FGM is almost universally performed and unquestioned.
2. FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage.
3. FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered acceptable sexual behaviour. It aims to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity. FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman's libido and therefore believed to help her resist extramarital sexual acts. When a vaginal opening is covered or narrowed (type 3), the fear of the pain of opening it, and the fear that this will be found out, is expected to further discourage extramarital sexual intercourse among women with this type of FGM.
4. Where it is believed that being cut increases marriageability, FGM is more likely to be carried out.
5. FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are clean and beautiful after removal of body parts that are considered unclean, unfeminine or male.
6. Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice, practitioners often believe the practice has religious support.
7. Religious leaders take varying positions with regard to FGM: some promote it, some consider it irrelevant to religion, and others contribute to its elimination.
8. Local structures of power and authority, such as community leaders, religious leaders, circumcisers, and even some medical personnel can contribute to upholding the practice.
9. In most societies, where FGM is practised, it is considered a cultural tradition, which is often used as an argument for its continuation.
10. In some societies, recent adoption of the practice is linked to copying the traditions of neighbouring groups. Sometimes it has started as part of a wider religious or traditional revival movement.

The last three decades have seen a general decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation - and momentum is still increasing. With our continued effort, we can work together to end female genital mutilation / cutting by 2030.

source: WHO , UN
2019-02-05 18:47:54