Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
At least 130 million women worldwide have
been forced to undergo female genital mutilation, with another 2
million annually at risk of this degrading and dangerous practice.
Amnesty International has defined FGM as
"the term used to refer to the removal of part, or all, of the female
genitalia." It is a common event in 28 African nations and also occurs
in Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia
and in European countries with large immigrant populations from these
There are four types of FGM,
ranked by extremity. They range from the amputation of the clitoris to
the most extreme form in which the clitoris, labia minora and
the inner surface of the labia majora are completely removed, and the
raw edges of the labia majora are fused together using thorns or
stitches to hold them in place. Most of these operations are done with
crude tools like broken glass, tin lids or razor blades, with no
anesthetic in non-sterile conditions by people with no formal medical
training. In some countries, however, there are an increasing number of
health professionals, trained midwives and physicians willing to
perform the surgery.
There are a variety of social, psychological, cosmetic and cultural reasons why FGM occurs,
but it is mostly performed as a rite of passage from childhood to
adulthood and is undertaken in most communities between the ages of
four and 14 years to maintain chastity and improve a girl's marriage prospects.
to popular belief, the Koran of Islam does not contain any directive
regarding FGM, and there is no religious justification for the practice
in any of the orthodox texts of any religion.
FGM poses not only a human rights issue but a serious health issue as
well. Beyond drastically limiting normal bodily functions and
destroying the capacity for sexual pleasure, genital mutilation can
cause scarring, infection and long-term physical and psychological
complications. It can sometimes lead to death.
-World Health Organization - FGM: Factsheet
-Political Asylum and FGM
-The FGC Education and Networking Project
-Feminist Majority Foundation - Feminist News Stories on FGM
-Muslim Women's League Position Paper on FGM
-Equality Now Campaigns
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