Did You Know About Female Genital Mutilations (FGM)?

The international effort to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) can be traced back the 1970s. However, it is on 20 December 2012 that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution targeting the practice recognized an irreparable and irreversible abuse that impacts negatively on the human rights of women and girls.

Tittled “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations, the resolution appeals to the entire International Community to observe 6 February every year as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The Day should also be used to increase campaigns aimed at creating awareness and to take tangible actions against FGM.

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM includes “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.”

Illustration of the types of FGM. Click to enlarge. Source: wikipedia.org
Illustration of the types of FGM. Click to enlarge. Source: wikipedia.org

FGM consist of one or more of several procedures, which vary according to the ethnic group. The WHO has classified the various types of FGM depending on the practices and the result of such practice on the body of the affected woman or girl. The classifications are Type I and II, Type III, Type IV.

The most severe form of FGM is known as infibulation which consist of a small hole left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, and the vagina is opened up for intercourse and childbirth.

The health effects of FGM depend on the procedure but can include recurrent infections, chronic pain, cysts, inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth and fatal bleeding.

Where is FGM practiced?

Surveys reveal that 125 million women and girls have been affected in what is describes as an “intriguingly contiguous zone” running from Senegal to Somalia in the east, and from Egypt to Tanzania, intersecting in Sudan.

2011 Prevalence of Female Genital Cutting in the world. Source: womanstats.org
2011 Prevalence of Female Genital Cutting in the world. Source: womanstats.org

Apart from Africa where FGM is mostly practiced, other countries tagged with the practice including Yemen, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Oman, Peru and Sri Lanka. Indications show that it is performed in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Scandinavia, the United States and Canada, immigrant communities practice FGM.

Why is FGM practiced?

The video below, by the UKAID’s Department for International Development on “Why does female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) happen?” summarizes the reasons behind the continuation of this practice.

Key Facts about FGM

Below are some facts published by the UN FGM.

  • An estimated 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
  • If current trends continue, some 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030.
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.
  • FGM cause severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

There is still more to learn and know about FGM to better tackle and eliminate it, but if you found this post useful, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.

Featured image source: huffingtonpost.com

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