What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation, sometimes known (incorrectly) as female circumcision, is a practice that is common in some African and Arab countries, is suddenly in the spotlight and under fire in the West.

FGM covers a number of different practices. Sunna circumcision, the least invasive procedure, involves cutting away part of the prepuce, or hood of the clitoris, and sometimes the tip itself. Excision is more drastic and involves the removal of the entire clitoris as well as the labia minora (inner vaginal lips) and the cutting back of the labia majora (outer vaginal lips). The most severe form of FGM is infibulation, where following the excision, the labia minora and major and the remaining sides of the vulva are stitched or stuck together until they heal leaving just a tiny hole for the flow of menstrual blood.

Opponents of the practice emphasise that while the procedure is sometimes carried out in modern hospitals, many societies still resort to primitive methods, cutting women with knives, scissors, razor blades and sometimes glass. Anaesthetics and antiseptics are seldom available, and deaths from shock, septicaemia and infections are common. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year more than two million girls endure FGM at puberty, and that worldwide there are between 85 - 115 million women who have been subjected to FGM.

(More info to be added)

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Information from the 1996 AAP brochure, "Circumcision: Pros and Cons, Guidelines for Parents"

"Female genital mutilation, sometimes referred to as female circumcision, is a common practice in many cultures. It involves the removal of part or all of a female's clitoris. Sometimes the opening of the vulva is sewn almost completely shut. It is often done without any pain medicine.

The purpose of this practice is to prove that a female is a virgin before she gets married, reduce her ability to experience sexual pleasure after marriage, and promote marital fidelity.

There are several serious side effects, including:

-Pelvic and urinary tract infections
-Negative effect on self-esteem and sexuality
-Interference with a female's ability to have a normal vaginal delivery.

The Academy is absolutely opposed to this practice in all forms as it is disfiguring and has no medical benefits."

For complete copy of AAP brochure, (mainly deals with infant male circumcision) write to:
American Academy of Pediatrics
Division of Publications
141 Northwest Point Blvd
P.O. Box 927
Elk Grove Village, Il 60009-0927

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Off-site Links to More Information

The following sites contain more information about many aspects dealing with the topic of female circumcision

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