Thursday, 6 February 2014

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

I have decided to write this blog post to inform people of what FGM is and raise awareness. I myself had never heard of FGM until I saw it featured on the BBC program Casualty last year and then also watched a documentary about it.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons"

The majority of cases of FGM are carried out in 28 African countries. It is more accurate however, to view FGM as being practised by specific ethnic groups, rather than by a whole country, as communities practising FGM straddle national boundaries. FGM takes place in parts of the Middle East, i.e. in Yemen, Oman, Iraqi Kurdistan, amongst some Bedouin women in Israel, and was also practised by the Ethiopian Jews, and it is unclear whether they continue with the practice now that they are settled in Israel. FGM is also practised among Bohra Muslim populations in parts of India and Pakistan, and amongst Muslim populations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
As a result of immigration and refugee movements, FGM is now being practiced by ethnic minority populations in other parts of the world, such as USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. FORWARD estimates that as many as 6,500 girls are at risk of FGM within the UK every year.

Instant health implications can include severe pain and shock, urine retention, injury to adjacent tissues ,immediate infection, fatal haemorrhaging. Long term effects can include uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections, cysts, neuromas complications in pregnancy and child birth,  psychological damage, sexual dysfunction and difficulties in menstruation, In addition to these health consequences there are considerable psycho-sexual, psychological and social consequences of FGM.


It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. However, the true extent is unknown due to the 'hidden' nature of the crime.
The girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to 'heal' before they return to school. There are also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in the UK.
FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, most commonly before puberty starts.
The procedure is traditionally carried out by a woman with no medical training. Anaesthetics and antiseptic treatments are not generally used and the practice is usually carried out using knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades. Girls may have to be forcibly restrained.
There are four main types of FGM which are clitoridectomy removing part or all of the clitoris, excision removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips),  infibulation narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia. Other harmful procedures to the female genitals, which include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning the area. 

FGM is illegal in the UK. It is also illegal to arrange for a child to be taken abroad for FGM. If caught, offenders face a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

The Guardian newspaper has launched a campaign to end FGM you can read about it here where there is also a link to sign a petition which you can also access here myself and over 66,000 others have signed it and I urge you to sign it too.

The following websites were used as sources of information for this post.

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