Female Genital Mutilation

A Blog by Laura Cox

Permalink Source: the Demographic and Health Survey - Egypt. (2005)
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Also known as “Female Circumcision”

Some refer to FGM as “Female Circumcision”. This name is misleading because it implies that the process of FGM is similar to male circumcision. However, the degree of cutting is much more extensive, often impairing a woman’s sexual and reproductive functions. 

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The Many Names of FGM:

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Cutting

Female Circumcision

Boondoo Ceremony

Boondoo Initiation

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Most Common Procedures of FGM

Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types.

  • Clitoridectomy: 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).
  • 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).
  • Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
  • Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
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According to the WHO (World Health Organization)

  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
  • It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
  • In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.
  • FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
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Permalink First Lady of Burkina Faso H.E. Mrs Chantal Compaoré, speaks out against Female Genital Mutilation at the  International Campaign to Ban Female Genital Mutilation worldwide at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
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Pressure to Practice FGM from within the community

The power of community pressure is illustrated by the case of Isnino Shuria, 80, a former practitioner of FGM who learned the rite from her mother.

“My mother died when I was 17, and I took over her practice,” says Ms. Shuria, who continued ‘cutting’ until eight years ago, when a group of women visited her with religious leaders who said FGM violated Islamic values. “I did not listen at first,” she recalls, “but after their third visit I stopped and realized what I was doing.”

The community women raised funds so that Ms. Shuria and others in her position could buy livestock to support themselves and make up for their loss of income.

“There are about 25 of us now,” says Ms. Shuria. “I deliver babies and massage mothers who have problem pregnancies – it is much better. I have many well-wishers who help me and my family.”  -UNICEF

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Permalink Graph Source: Filipspagnoli Human Rights Blog