Sacred bodies FGM project -About FGM

What is Female genital Mutilation (FGM)


Female Genital Mutilation is any procedure which involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

FGM is widely practiced in different parts of the world including 28 African countries and part of Middle East. The procedure is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and before they reach puberty. There is no health benefit for this procedure and FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Types of FGM

Female Genital Mutilation is classified in to four different types.


Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).


Excision:partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).



Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.



Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.


Health Implications of FGM

Female Genital Mutilation is a harmful procedure which often causes women and girls serious physical and psychological health problems in life. These implications are divided in to two categories short-term and long-term implications.

Long term health implications

Women and girls who were subjected to Female Genital Mutilation may experience long-term physical, emotional and psychological health effects. Repeated urinary tract infection and difficulties with menstruation is often experienced due to narrowing of the opening of the vagina which can also damage the reproductive organs. In some cases FGM can cause prolonged labour and complications in childbirth, labour pains also trigger memories of the terrible experience women have undergone as children and add extra stress and agony while in labour.

Fear and difficulties in having sex are also problems faced by women who under gone FGM which has a negative impact in marriage and relationships. Long-term health implications include:

  • Recurrent vaginal and pelvic infections

  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

  • Increased problems with menstruation

  • Complications in pregnancy, labour and child birth

  • Infertility

  • Difficulties with intercourse

  • Fistula

  • Cyst

  • Scar tissue

  • Psychological problems

    • Emotional distress

    • Fear

    • Anger

    • Post-traumatic stress disorder

    • Flash backs

    • Anxiety

    • Depression

    • Psychosexual problems


Why is FGM Performed


Female Genital Mutilation is performed for due social, cultural and religious reasons.

There are many justifications given to why Female Genital mutilation is practised. One common reason given is to keep the culture and identity of a community. In many communities it is believed that the practice protects girl’s virginity and that it prevents girls being promiscuous and stops premarital sexual relationships which bring the family a status, respect and honour within their community specially when considering marriage. Some other communities feel that it is necessary to keep the practise as the procedure makes girls pure, clean, increases a girl’s beauty and to enhance men’s sexual pleasure.


Some communities argue that the practice is a religious requirement and they call it ‘Sunnah’. However there is no strong evidence to support their claims and many religious leaders condemn the practice.

Who performs FGM

Female Genital Mutilation is mostly carried out on girls between the age of infancy and 15 years and in some cases on women. The age groups various between communities. In most of the practising communities the procedure is commonly performed by older traditional women circumcisers or excises that are well known and respected within their communities. In some communities midwifes and medically trained people also perform FGM.

The procedure is often performed without proper sterilised equipment, without anaesthetic and performed in unhygienic places. Some of the equipment used to cut the genitals includes razor blades and knives.

FGM and the Law

FGM is illegal in the UK and many parts of the world. It is considered to be a form of child abuse and recognised internationally as a violation of basic human right of women and girls.

Female Genital Mutilation is Illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident out of the UK and arrange or help FGM to be carried out on them abroad. Anyone who is caught faces severe penalty and up to 14 years prison sentence.

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