Genital mutilation or genital cutting, female
Female genital mutilation (FGM), female genital cutting (FGC), or female circumcision are terms which refer to a partial or complete removal or wounding of the external female genitals for non-medical reasons. This intervention can be fatal. Most survivors suffer from its consequences for the rest of their lives. FGM is a violation of human rights. It is a violation of the physical and psychological integrity of women and girls.
Facts and figures on female genital cutting
- More than 200 million women and girls around the world are living with the consequences of FGC.
- Every year, some four million girls are subjected to this cutting. Most of them were not older than 15 years. Many even die when the procedure results in infections or bleeding.
- The survivors generally have to live with the consequences for the rest of their life, such as anxiety, sleeplessness and depression, fistulas, infertility and incontinence.
- Where a mother has been cut, for both mother and child there is a higher risk of life-threatening complications during birth.
- The practice of FGC is common in 92 countries. This cutting takes place in countries in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia, as well as in Europe, America and Australia.
The terms: mutilation or circumcision? Human rights violation!
Internationally, the term “female genital mutilation” became the most common way to describe this severe violation of human rights. It is also referred to as “female circumcision”, but this is rejected by the World Health Organisation and others as downplaying the nature of the act.
However, many survivors feel that “mutilation” is degrading and stigmatising against both them and their communities; and many do consider themselves to be “circumcised”. Discussion in the USA led to the term “female genital cutting”.
As with all other women who have had to experience violence, we talk to those affected. These women and girls are not “mutilated”, nor have they been “circumcised”. They have been attacked. Their body and their rights have been seriously violated.