Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a traditional harmful practice which involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injuring female genitals for either cultural or non-medical reasons. It involves a number of practices which are performed between infancy to as late as thirty. But mostly, majority of girls experience FGM between four to twelve years of age.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the procedure is concentrated.It is estimated that almost 3 million girls are at the risk of undergoing the procedure every year before they even turn 15.
The harmful practice has no proven health benefits, butserious implications for women’s sexual and reproductive health.In addition, it leads to long-term complications to women’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Immediate complications include haemorrhage, tetanus, severe pain, urine retention, urinary infection, fever, shock, septicmia and many more, while the long-term effects are anaemia, keloid scar formation, complications during childbirth, sexual dysfunction, increased HIV risk and mental trauma.
While the practice is considered a violation of human rights of girls and women internationally, it is mainly concentrated in Western, Eastern, and North-Eastern regions of Africa and some countries in the Middle East and Asia. According to the United Nations Population Fund, it is also practiced among migrant populations throughout Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
The practice is an extreme form of gender discrimination that reflects dep-rooted inequality between both sexes. The procedure is performed on little girls without their consent, hence, in violation of rights of children.
In which countries is Female Genital Mutilation illegal or banned by law?
According to a report by UNFPA, 2020, following is a list of countries where the inhumane practice is illegal:
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- The Gambia
- Guinea Bissau
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Australia (6 out of 8 states)