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Female Genital Mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

FGM has been categorised into 4 types, ranging from a symbolic pricking to the clitoris, to the removal of the clitoris and virginal lips or sealing of the vaginal opening.

It is estimated that across the world between 100 and 140 million women and girls have undergone FGM. Most of the females affected live in 28 African countries with some also from parts of the Middle East and Asia. Due to international migration, the practice has spread to other countries, including the UK.

FGM generally takes place between birth and the age of 14 years. Most often it is conducted between the ages of 5 and 8 years old.

Different communities have different names for FGM, some of the most commonly used terms are below, Click here to see the full list

Country Term used for FGM
Egypt Thara/Khitan/Khifad
Ethiopia Megrez / Absum
Eritrea Mekhnishab
Gambia Niaka / Kuyango / Musolula Karoola
Guinea-Bissau Fanadu di Mindjer / Fanadu di Oni
Kenya Kutairi / Kutairi was ichana
Nigeria Ibi / Ugwu / Sunna
Sierra Leone Sunna / Bondo / Sonde
Somalia Gudiniin / Halalays / Qodiin
Sudan Khifad / Tahoor

FGM is usually arranged by the girls’ parents or her extended family. Social and cultural reasons are sometimes given as the reason for carrying out FGM. FGM may be seen as a way of protecting family honour, preserving tradition, ensuring a woman’s chastity or being preparation for marriage. It is often seen by the family as an act of love, rather than cruelty. However, FGM is child abuse. It is a violation of the human rights of women and has long term emotional and physical consequences. It has been illegal in the UK for over 30 years.

In some cultures it is believed that the procedure is a religious requirement. However, neither the Bible nor the Koran support this practice. It is not a requirement of Christian or Islamic faith and is not condoned by Christian or Islamic teaching and beliefs.

Further information and reading:

Contraception Contraception
Pregnancy Pregnancy

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If you need further advice, or if this page hasn’t answered your questions then get in contact with your local bSHaW Sexual Health Clinic for a friendly chat.

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