Each year millions of girls between the ages of infancy and 15 years of age are subjected to what is called female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM).
The WHO define FGM as 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.
FGM is usually a cultural practice. Approximately 85% of FGM procedures involve removal of the clitoris.
FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM. In Africa alone, three million African women a year go through the pain of this procedure; which is often performed without anaesthetic in less than sterile conditions using razor blades, pieces of glass or a knife.
In some cases after the cutting has finished the vagina is sewn up so there is only a small hole for the woman to urinate through.
Many women who have undergone female circumcision suffer and die from the Septicaemia and the other infections that follow the procedure.
Long-term consequences of FGM can include:
Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15, and occasionally on adult women. In Africa, about three million girls are at risk for FGM annually.