What Is FGM?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice involving the cutting or removal of the external female genitals. FGM is traditionally practised by non-medically trained women. It results in pain, trauma, health and emotional problems.
The four main types of FGM are:
- Type I or Clitoridectomy – Clitoris or clitoral hood is cut off.
- Type II or Intermediate – Clitoris and inner lips are removed.
- Type III or Infibulation – Clitoris, inner and outer lips are removed and the remaining skin is stitched or sealed leaving a small opening.
- Type IV or other harmful procedures – including piercing, pricking, stretching, scraping, burning, cutting and introducing corrosives/herbs.
FGM causes life-long physical and emotional harm. The health problems that can occur are:
- Severe loss of blood, pain or shock
- Difficulties in urinating or menstruating
- Bladder infections
- Increased risk of HIV/Aids
- Mental health problems – extreme depression, anxiety and trauma.
- Problems with sexuality and during sex
- Complications, and sometimes death, in pregnancy and childbirth including obstructed labour due to reduced opening, or incontinence due to fistula (tears in bladder or rectum).
It is often mistakenly thought that FGM is performed for religious reasons but it predates the major faiths and is not required by any religion. The reasons why FGM continues today are complex and reflect both the history and current circumstances of the communities in which it takes place.