” procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”

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Female genital mutilation (FGM)

This entails all ” procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In many settings, health care providers perform FGM due to the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized. However, WHO strongly urges health professionals not to perform such procedures.

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FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Procedures

Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types.

Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the 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). 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).


Type 2: Often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).

Type 3: Often referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).

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Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Deinfibulation refers to the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening in a woman who has been infibulated, which is often necessary for improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.

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 (type 3) 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 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated.

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The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among migrants from these areas.’’

 

 

 

Taken from

World Health Organisation

 

 



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