Why Female Genital Mutilation

Why Female Genital Mutilation ..

 

What is FGM?
FGM includes “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

Most often the mutilation is performed before puberty, often on girls between the age of four and eight.

There has, however, been reports of FGM being performed on young babies.

What’s involved in the procedure?
There are four types of procedures, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO):

Type I: Partial or total removal of the clitoris
Type II: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (outer lips).
Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the creation of a covering seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia.
Type IV: All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
Where is it practised?
The practice can be found in communities all over the world.

FGM is known to be practiced in some African countries, including Ghana, Sudan and Somalia.

It’s also practiced in Asian countries like India and Indonesia, in Middle-Eastern countries like the UAE and Yemen, in Eastern European countries like Georgia and the Russian Federation and South American countries like Columbia and Ecuador.

FGM is also practiced among diaspora populations in Western countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and the UK.

Why is FGM performed?
FGM is performed for a variety of reasons but is often a result of deeply entrenched gender inequality within a society.

It is sometimes carried out to ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterwards, and to increase male sexual pleasure.

FGM can also be seen as a signifier of a girl’s initiation into womanhood and some communities view the female genitalia as dirty and ugly.

What is ‘cutting season’?
‘Cutting season’ is the term given to the period over the summer holidays where potentially thousands of girls in the UK are flown abroad to undergo FGM.

Who is at risk?
In the UK, the Home Office has identified girls from the Somali, Kenyan, Ethiopian, Sudanese, Sierra Leonean, Egyptian, Nigerian, Eritrean, Yemeni, Kurdish and Indonesian communities most at risk of FGM.

Girls are also at risk if FGM has been carried out on their mother, sister or a member of their extended family.

Why is it dangerous?
FGM has serious consequences for the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women.

During the procedure, complications include severe pain, shock and haemorrhage.

Why is it dangerous?
FGM has serious consequences for the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women.

During the procedure, complications include severe pain, shock and haemorrhage.

Long-term effects include complications during childbirth, urinary tract infections, lack of sexual pleasure and infertility.

Young women who have had their vaginal opening sealed will also need to have it cut open again later to allow for sexual intercourse.

Psychologically, the process is also deeply disturbing, with women affected going on to suffer from anxiety and depression.

What’s the legal status of FGM?
In 2016, the United Nations adopted The Girl Child Resolution, which recognises FGM as a form of “discrimination against the girl child and the violation of the rights of the girl child.”

In the UK, it’s illegal to practice FGM and for UK nationals to perform FGM abroad. The maximum penalty for FGM is 14 years.

What’s being done to stop FGM?
The government has put increasing efforts into tackling FGM in recent years and it is now compulsory for family doctors, hospitals and mental health services to report any new cases in their patients.

There’s still much more to be done though. There have been 6,195 cases recorded between April 2017 and March this year – but there is yet to be a successful prosecution involving FGM.

If you know someone who has undergone or is at risk from FGM, you should contact the police.

If the victim has already been taken abroad, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

 

Agency Report

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