What is Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/FGC)?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#1)
What are the different types of FGM/FGC?
Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.
Excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labia minora
Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation). Sometimes referred to as pharaonic circumcision.
Others, such as pricking, piercing or incising, stretching, burning of the clitoris, scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal orifice, cutting of the vagina, introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten the opening.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#2)
Which type is the most common?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#3)
Different terms are in use to describe FGM/FGC. What do they mean?
refers to making cuts in the clitoris, cutting free the clitoral prepuce, but also relates to incisions made in the vaginal wall and to incision of the perineum and the symphysis.
refers to partial or total removal of the clitoris
refers to the removal of the clitoris and partial or total removal of the labia minora. The amount of tissue that is removed varies widely from community to community.
refers to the removal of the clitoris, partial or total removal of the labia minora and stitching together of the labia majora.
this is a collective name that is used to describe a variety of practices involving the cutting of the female genitalia. It often refers to operations that fall under type I FGM/FGC. This term is considered as confusing by some since it seems to equate male circumcision with FGM/FGC. However, the only form that anatomically is comparable to male circumcision is that form in which the clitoral prepuce is cut away. This form seldom occurs. It is sometimes argued that the term circumcision obscures the serious physical and psychological effects of genital cutting on women.
Female genital mutilation:
this is also a collective name to describe procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-medical reasons. This term is used by a wide range of women’s health and human rights organizations and activists, not just to describe the various forms but also to indicate that the practice is considered a mutilation of the female genitalia and as a violation of women’s basic human rights. Since 1994, the term has been used in several United Nations conference documents, and has served as a policy and advocacy tool.
Female genital cutting:
Some organizations have opted to use the more neutral term ‘female genital cutting’. This stems from the fact that communities that practice FGC often find the use of the term ‘mutilation’ demeaning, since it seems to indicate malice on the part of parents or circumcisers. The use of judgmental terminology bears the risk of creating a backlash, thus possibly causing an alienation of communities that practice FGM/FGC or even causing an actual increase in the number of girls being subjected to FGM/FGC. In this respect it should be noted that the Special Rapporteur on Traditional Practices (ECOSOC, Commission on Human Rights) recently called for tact and patience regarding FGC eradication activities and warned against the dangers of demonizing cultures under cover of condemning practices harmful to women and girls.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#4)
What is de-infibulation?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#5)
What is re-infibulation?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#6)
Where does the practice come from?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#7)
Who performs FGM/FGC?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#8)
What instruments are used to perform FGM/FGC?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#9)
At what age is FGM/FGC performed?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#11)
In which countries is FGM/FGC practiced?
FGM/FGC is also practiced among certain ethnic groups in a number of Asian countries (India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan); among some groups in the Arabian Peninsula (in Oman, United Arab Emirates, Yemen); Iraq; occupied Palestinian territories and among certain immigrant communities in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#12)
Why is FGM/FGC performed?
FGM/FGC is carried out as a means to control women’s sexuality (which is argued to be insatiable if parts of the genitalia, especially the clitoris, are not removed). It is thought to ensure virginity before and fidelity after marriage and/or to increase male sexual pleasure.
Sociological and cultural reasons:
FGM/FGC is seen as part of a girl’s initiation into womanhood and as an intrinsic part of a community’s cultural heritage/tradition. Various myths exist about female genitalia (e.g. that if uncut the clitoris will grow to the size of a penis; FGM/FGC would enhance fertility or promote child survival, etc) and these serve to perpetuate the practice.
Hygiene and aesthetic reasons:
In some communities, the external female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed ostensibly to promote hygiene and aesthetic appeal.
Although FGM/FGC is not sanctioned by either Islam nor by Christianity, supposed religious prescripts (e.g. the mention of ‘Sunna” in the Koran) are often used to justify the practice.
In many communities, FGM/FGC is a prerequisite for marriage. Where women are largely dependent on men, economic necessity can be a major determinant to undergo the procedure. FGM/FGC sometimes is a prerequisite for the right to inherit. FGM/FGC may also be a major income source for practitioners.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#13)
How many women and girls are affected?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#14)
How does FGM/FGC affect women’s health?
FGM/FGC has both immediate and long-term consequences to the health of women.
These include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, tetanus or infection, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue, wound infection, urinary infection, fever and septicaemia. Haemorrhage and infection can be of such magnitude as to cause death.
Long term consequences:
These include anemia, the formation of cysts and abscesses, keloid scar formation, damage to the urethra resulting in urinary incontinence, dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse) and sexual dysfunction, hypersensitivity of the genital area. Infibulation can cause severe scar formation, difficulty in urinating, menstrual disorders, recurrent bladder and urinary tract infection, fistulae, prolonged and obstructed labour (sometimes resulting in fetal death and vesico-vaginal fistulae and/or vesico-rectal fistulae), and infertility (as a consequence of earlier infections). Cutting of the scar tissue is sometimes necessary to facilitate sexual intercourse and/or childbirth. Almost complete vaginal obstruction may occur, resulting in accumulation of menstrual flow in the vagina and uterus. During childbirth the risk of hemorrhage and infection is greatly increased.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#15)
Is there a link between FGM/FGC and the risk of HIV/AIDS infection?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#16)
What are the psychological effects of FGM/FGC?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#17)
Is FGM/FGC required by certain religions?
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#18)
Can FGM/FGC be condoned if it is carried out by medical professionals …
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#19)
Since FGM/FGC is part of a cultural tradition, can it still be condemn…
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#20)
In which countries is FGM/FGC banned by law?
Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt (Ministerial decree), Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria (multiple states), Senegal, Tanzania, Togo. In Sudan only the most severe form of FGM/FGC is forbidden by law.
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States (federal law, and specific state laws).
Penalties range from a minimum of six months to a maximum of life in prison. Several countries also include monetary fines in the penalty. As of June 2000, there have been prosecutions or arrests in Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, France and Senegal. Belgium. Benin, Nigeria, and Uganda are proposing laws to ban the practice of FGM/FGC.
In September 2001, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Female Genital Mutilation . The resolution calls on the member states of the European Union to pursue, protect and punish any resident who has committed the crime of FGM even if committed outside the frontier (“extraterritoriality”) and calls on the Commission and the Council to take measures in regard to the issuing of residence permits and protection for the victims of the practice. The resolution also calls on the member states to recognise the right to asylum of women and girls at risk of being subject to FGM/FGC.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#21)
What terms do people who practice FGM/FGC use to describe the procedur…
Sunna: Sunna means ‘precept’ or ‘tradition’ in Arabic and it refers to a range of practices that follow the teachings of Islam. It is used in various communities to refer to different types of FGM/FGC, varying from incisions in the clitoris to intermediate forms. References to the term ‘sunna’ in the Koran are often used to justify FGM/FGC as being a religious obligation.
Source: UNFPA (http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm#23)