What is it?
Female genital mutilation (FGM), sometimes called female genital cutting (FGC) or female circumcision, is the cutting or removal of all or a portion of the female genitals for cultural (not medical) reasons. There are different ways it is practiced according to the place or culture in which it is being done. The World Health Organization describes them in the following types:
Type I (Clitoridectomy): removal of part or all of the clitoris.
Type II (Excision): This is the most common form. Removal of the clitoris and part or all of the labia minora (the inner vaginal lips).
Type III (Infibulation): Removal of the external genitalia and stitching of the vaginal opening. A very small opening is left, about the diameter of a pencil. Sometimes the girlís or womanís legs are bound together from the hip to the ankle so that she cannot move for 40 days. Some communities donít stitch the opening. About 15 percent of women who undergo FGM have this form. In the areas where it is practiced, however, it sometimes affects 90 to 100 percent of the women.
Type IV: This category includes pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or labia, stretching the clitoris and/or labia, cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissues, scraping (angurya cuts) of the vaginal orifice or cutting (gishiri cuts) of the vagina, introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding, or introduction of herbs into the vagina to tighten or narrow the vagina, or any other procedure that falls under the definition of female genital mutilation.
The procedure is usually done outside of a hospital, with no anesthetic. The person (usually another woman) performing the procedure uses razors, scissors or knives, sometimes other sharp instruments. There are incidences of FGM being performed in hospitals as well. It is done to girls and women, the most common being girls under the age of puberty.
The number of girls and women who have been subjected to this practice range from 115 million to 130 million worldwide and an estimated two million girls are at risk each year.
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