• What is female genital mutilation?

    Posted on September 6, 2012 by admin in Publications.

    It’s one of the most political areas of women’s health. Worldwide it’s estimated that well over 120 million women have been subjected to it. Supporters of the practice say it’s an important part of cultural and religious life, and some compare it to the practice of male circumcision that is more widely accepted in the Western world, but opponents say that not only is it potentially life-threatening – it’s also an extreme form of oppression of women.

    In some countries where it’s more widely practised it’s officially illegal – those who persist in the practice in Senegal will now face a prison term of between one and five years, for example. But it’s still carried out quietly, within the family and out of sight of officials.

    Female circumcision is mainly carried out in western and southern Asia, the Middle East and large areas of Africa. It’s also known to take place among immigrant communities in the USA, Canada, France, Australia and Britain, where it’s illegal. In total it’s estimated that as many as two million girls a year are subjected to genital mutilation.

    There are three main types of circumcision:

    The removal of the tip of the clitoris
    Total removal of the clitoris and surrounding labia
    The removal of the clitoris and labia and the sewing up of the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood – a process known as infibulation
    So drastic is the mutilation involved in the latter operation that young brides have to be cut open to allow penetration on their wedding night and are customarily sewn up afterwards.

    Read our newest publication regarding campaigns against FGM in Solmalia.

    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/female_genital_mutilation.shtml

    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.

    Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.

    Long-term consequences can include:

    • recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
    • cysts;
    • infertility;
    • an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths;
    • the need for later surgeries. For example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3 above) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth. Sometimes it is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing and repeated both immediate and long-term risks.

    Research shows that, if practising communities themselves decide to abandon FGM, the practice can be eliminated very rapidly.

    Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

8 Responsesso far.

  1. Good article but It’s really amazing that whenever GFM gets discussed, people are mostly concerned about the physical/medical harms without referring to the social and psychological effect of such terrible crime. FGM is basically done to females to suppress their sexual desire and dominate them. A girl tied up by her own family members and gone through such terrible pain and humiliation of being exposed and cut in preparation for a future marriage gets easily dominated as “inferior” for the rest of her life.. unlike the circumcision of boys which happens in a very early age, and which is celebrated by the family and neighborhood, GFM is done secretly and is meant to be an” immunity” against desire and “sin” that the girl would stay a virgin, but it’s also meant to deprive her of her natural right of sexual satisfaction or even responsiveness after marriage, turning her into a reproduction machine.
    In such a culture, men take over by the power of the community and women lose their self esteem.

  2. Good article but It’s really amazing that whenever GFM gets discussed, people are mostly concerned about the physical/medical harms without referring to the social and psychological effect of such a terrible crime. FGM is basically done to females to suppress their sexual desire and dominate them. A girl tied up by her own family members and gone through such terrible pain and humiliation of being exposed and cut in preparation for a future marriage gets easily dominated as “inferior” for the rest of her life.. unlike the circumcision of boys which happens in a very early age, and which is celebrated by the family and neighborhood, GFM is done secretly and is meant to be an” immunity” against desire and “sin” that the girl would stay a virgin, but it’s also meant to deprive her of her natural right of sexual satisfaction or even responsiveness after marriage, turning her into a reproduction machine.
    In such a culture, men take over by the power of the community and women lose their self esteem.

  3. Good article but It’s really amazing that whenever FGM gets discussed, people are mostly concerned about the physical/medical harms without referring to the social and psychological effect of such a terrible crime. FGM is basically done to females to suppress their sexual desire and dominate them. A girl tied up by her own family members and gone through such terrible pain and humiliation of being exposed and cut in preparation for a future marriage gets easily dominated as “inferior” for the rest of her life.. unlike the circumcision of boys which happens in a very early age, and which is celebrated by the family and neighborhood, FGM is done secretly and is meant to be an” immunity” against desire and “sin” that the girl would stay a virgin, but it’s also meant to deprive her of her natural right of sexual satisfaction or even responsiveness after marriage, turning her into a reproduction machine.
    In such a culture, men take over by the power of the community and women lose their self esteem.

    • Laratmp says:

      You are correct. There is little to no information on the psychological effect this has on an individual, those who witness the violation and/or perform the act. However, I was able to find a little information.

      Victims are likely to have psychiatric disorders,

      anxiety, somatisation ( The production of recurrent and multiple medical symptoms with no discernible organic cause), phobias, low self esteem, and depression. Retrieved from a Norwegian 2010 report. Also, note the average age of FGM victims is infancy to age 15.

      I find it hard to believe the psychological effects are not deeper, more severe, and diverse than what’s listed above. Also, I am compelled to believe that many girls commit suicide as a result of fear, depression and/or anxiety due to FGM (that is my opinion. I couldn’t find any data to back this up).

      There is a clear need for research on the psychological impacts of FGM.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

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  4. #NoFGM says:

    This article is featured here: http://paper.li/NoFGM1/1347915392 Thanks for raising the important psychological aspects.
    I think the impacts are suggested by the fact that girls undergoing FGM tend to leave / drop out of school shortly afterwards?
    @NoFGM1

  5. hummy says:

    can the FGM be done to a new born baby girl?