What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the practice of intentionally altering or causing injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is also known as female circumcision or female cutting. FGM is a traditional practice that is carried out in many countries, primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. It is often seen as a rite of passage into womanhood and is believed to control a woman’s sexuality.
FGM is a violation of human rights and is illegal in many countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 200 million women and girls have been subjected to FGM worldwide. It is estimated that 3 million girls are at risk of being subjected to FGM each year.

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The 4 Main Types of FGM

Female genital mutilation is categorized into 4 types, based on the extent of the procedure. Each type has a range of health risks and complications associated with it.

Type 1: Clitoridectomy

Clitoridectomy is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris). This is the most common type of FGM.

Type 2: Excision

Excision is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (inner folds of the vulva), with or without the removal of the labia majora (outer folds of skin of the vulva).

Type 3: Infibulation

Infibulation is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

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Type 4: Other

Other types of FGM refer to all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital area.

Complications of FGM

Female genital mutilation can cause a range of physical and psychological health complications. These can include pain, infection, bleeding, shock, infertility, difficulty in labor, and increased risk of death of the mother and child. Psychological complications can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety.


Female genital mutilation is an ancient practice that is still being carried out in many countries. It is a violation of human rights, and the consequences of the procedure can be severe. The World Health Organization is advocating for the elimination of FGM and the protection of women and girls from this practice.