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About FGM

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

FGM is typically carried out on girls from a few days old to puberty. It may be performed by trained medical staff in hospitals, but the practise of the medication is not acceptable. Although this trend may reduce the immediate pain or the risk of infection - it does not prevent long term complications or psychological trauma.  

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is commonly performed without anaesthesia, by a traditional circumciser using a knife, razor blade or scissors.

Classifications of FGM

The WHO has offered four classifications of FGM:

  • Type I - Clitoridectomy
    Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the clitoral prepuce. (Prepuce is 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
    Removal of part or all of the labia minora, with the labia majora sewn together, covering the uretha and vagina and leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual fluid. (Infibulation is done by cutting and repositiong the inner or outer labia.)

  • Type IV
    All other harmfull procedures to the female genital for non medical purposes, for example pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

According to the WHO, 100 - 140 million women and girls are living with FGM, including 92 million girls over the age of 10 in Africa. The practice is carried out by some communities who believe it reduces a woman's libido. The practice persists in 30 African countries. Every year more then three million girls are at risk of FGM. Most of them in Africa, but also in other parts of the world.