What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Learn about the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), its types, consequences, prevalence, and efforts to end it worldwide.


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice that involves altering or injuring the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is a violation of human rights and has devastating effects on women and girls worldwide.

Types of FGM

There are four main types of FGM:

  • Type 1: Clitoridectomy – partial or total removal of the clitoris
  • Type 2: Excision – partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora
  • Type 3: Infibulation – narrowing of the vaginal opening by sewing or narrowing the labia and leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual flow
  • Type 4: Other harmful procedures such as pricking, piercing, or cauterizing

Prevalence of FGM

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM in 30 countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It is also practiced in some communities in Europe and the Americas.

Health Consequences

FGM can have serious physical and psychological health consequences for women and girls. These include severe pain, infections, menstruation problems, complications in childbirth, and long-term psychological trauma.

Case Study: Somalia

In Somalia, FGM is almost universal, with 98% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 having undergone the practice. This has led to a high prevalence of health problems and complications during childbirth in the country.

Efforts to End FGM

There are international efforts to end FGM, with campaigns aimed at raising awareness, advocating for legal protection, and providing support for survivors. Organizations such as UNICEF, WHO, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are working to eliminate FGM worldwide.


Female Genital Mutilation is a harmful practice that needs to be eradicated to protect the rights and health of women and girls. By raising awareness, supporting survivors, and advocating for legal measures, we can work towards ending FGM and creating a safer and healthier future for all.

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