global women intact


research and articles

what is it?


female genital cutting (fgc), also known as female genital mutilation (fgm), female genital mutilation/cutting (fgm/c), or female circumcision, is any procedure involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs "whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons." the term is almost exclusively used to describe traditional or religious procedures on a minor, which requires the parents' consent because of the age of the girl.


fgc is practiced throughout the world, with the practice concentrated most heavily in africa. opposition is motivated by concerns regarding the consent (or lack thereof, in most cases) of the patient, health risks, and subsequently the safety and long-term consequences of the procedures.


amnesty international estimates that over 130 million women worldwide have been affected by some form of fgm, with over 3 million girls at risk of undergoing fgm every year. fgm is mainly practiced in 28 different african countries. it is common in a band that stretches from senegal in west africa to ethiopia on the east coast, as well as from egypt in the north to tanzania in the south. it is also practiced by some groups in the arabian peninsula.


medical consequences


among practicing cultures, fgc is most commonly performed between the ages of four and eight, but can take place at any age from infancy to adolescence. prohibition has led to fgc going underground, at times with people who have had no medical training performing the cutting without anesthetic, sterilization, or the use of proper medical instruments. the procedure can lead to death through shock from excessive bleeding. the failure to use sterile medical instruments may lead to infections.


other serious long term health effects are also common. these include urinary and reproductive tract infections, caused by obstructed flow of urine and menstrual blood, various forms of scarring and infertility. epidermal inclusion cysts may form and expand, particularly in procedures affecting the clitoris. these cysts can grow over time and can become infected, requiring medical attention such as drainage. the first episode of sexual intercourse will often be extremely painful for infibulated women, who will need the labia majora to be opened, to allow their partner access to the vagina. this second cut, sometimes performed by the partner with a knife, can cause other complications to arise.


according to the who criteria, all types of fgc were found to pose an increased risk of death to the baby (15% to 55%  depending on type). mothers with fgc type iii were also found to be 30% more at risk for cesarean sections and had a 70% increase in postpartum hemorrhage compared to women without fgc. estimating from these results, and doing a rough population estimate of mothers in africa with fgc, an additional 10 to 20 per thousand babies in africa die during delivery as a result of the mothers having undergone genital cutting.


other information resources

liberia: report on fgm

data and trends update 2010

world health organization fact sheet

fgm and other harmful practices

world health report of the secretariat

british girls undergo horror of genital mutilation despite tough laws
some 500 to 2,000 british schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. some will be taken abroad, others will be "cut" or circumcised and sewn closed here in the uk by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to "cutting parties" for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise. then the girls will return to their schools and try to get on with their lives, scarred mentally and physically by female genital mutilation (fgm), a practice that serves as a social and cultural bonding exercise and, among those who are stitched up, to ensure that chastity can be proved to a future article

burkina faso
the death of a 14-year-old girl from female genital mutilation/cutting (fgm/c) has sparked shock and anger in burkina faso, which has been seen as far ahead of other african countries in the fight  against the practice. "sorrowful and shocking" is how aïna ouédraogo, permanent secretary of the national committee for the fight against excision (cnlpe), described the girl's article

a cutting tradition
when a girl is taken - usually by her mother - to a free circumcision event held each spring in bandung, indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. sponsored by the assalaam foundation, an islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift article

5 women & gender
africa: building momentum for abandonment of fgm

female genital mutilation/cutting has been illegal in senegal since 1999. but that didn't stop dialyma cisse's paternal grandmother from having her cut, against the wishes of the young girl and her parents. once a social norm is established, even if it is a harmful one, it can be hard for individuals to opt out. parents fear their daughters may be socially marginalised or face reduced marriage prospects. but in senegal, and in many countries across africa and the arab states, communities are questioning the traditional ways and taking collective action in article