Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation is a rite of initiation into adulthood for some girls living in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
procedure involves removing all or part of the female genitalia; it may
also involve sewing up the vagina to “protect” a girl’s virginity.
that practice the tradition cite reasons of “cleanliness” and
“purification.” The chairman of an Indonesian foundation providing
free female circumcision has said the procedure is designed to
“stabilize a girl’s libido, make her more beautiful in the eyes of her
husband, and balance her psychology.”
international human rights community (including multiple UN bodies and
conventions) defines FGM as “a harmful practice meant to control
women’s sexuality.” Most are working to have it abolished.
is estimated that 140 million girls worldwide have undergone the
procedure, which is practiced on approximately two million girls per
- The highest rates (90% of girls or more) are found in Indonesia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Somalia.
often occurs even where prohibited by law, and is common in immigrant
communities from these countries living even in the developed world.
- Critics of FGM often face charges of cultural insensitivity, but most see the practice as a human rights violation.
- Read about FGM today in Sara Corbett’s New York Times Magazine article
The World Health Organization opposes FGM on health grounds as well.
- In many countries, the procedure may be performed with primitive instruments, including shards of glass.
- Complications may include infection, bleeding, and life-long pain.
more FGM procedures are performed by trained medical personnel, which
improves the safety of the procedure, but concerns human rights
activists who worry that the practice is moving into the mainstream in
Next: The Girl Child: Sexual Predation