Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Worldwide, roughly 140 million girls and women live with the consequences of FGM.
In Africa alone, 101 million girls 10 years and over have suffered from FGM.
FGM is most common in Africa, as well as some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Migrants from these areas are also associated with the practices.
The practices are motivated by cultural morales of sexuality, relating procedures to status of premarital virginity and marital fidelity. Many communities believe the practice will make women refrain from “illicit” behavior.
Female Genital Mutilation is also associated with cultural concepts of femininity and modesty, which may involve the ideas of removing the part of a girl which makes her “unclean.”.
FGM has become a pressing issue in Australia, Canada, England, France, and the U.S., because of immigrants continuing to practice the procedures that were common in their native countries.
These procedures are planned at a range of ages starting shortly after birth all the way to pregnancy. The most common ages are between 0 and 15.
Medicalisation of FGM has been denounced by the World Health Organization (WHO), but many procedures are done by traditional practitioners with knives, broken glass, or other sharp objects.
FGM causes immediate consequences of pain, shock, bleeding, injury of other genital tissue, difficulty urinating, infections, and sometimes death due to hemorrhagic shock.
Women who undergo FGM have an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.