By: Cassandra Hedrick
Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, is a procedure that removes part or all of the outer part of the female genitals. It is very painful and dangerous, causing pain throughout the victim’s life. It happens mostly in eastern Africa and parts of Asia, but can happen to girls anywhere.
The mutilation can range from just the removal of clitoris and lips (clitoridectomy) to sewing the lips over the vagina (infibulation). It happens to girls in infancy or adolescents, but can also happen to older women as well. The immediate consequences include severe pain, infection, shock, and sometimes death. However, the effects are lifelong. Long term consequences include urinary and vaginal problems, need for surgery later in life, and psychological problems, such as depression and low self-esteem.
Female circumcision is most popular in western and eastern regions in Africa, the Middle East, and some countries in Asia. In these places, it is considered a social norm and believed necessary to raising girls. It is also considered a way to keep women sexually pure by stopping them from wanting to engage in sexual behavior. It is also supposed to increase marriageability.
Female genital mutilation is considered a violation of human rights. Recently, there has been a wider international effort to stop it through more political involvement in countries where it is popular. These efforts include strengthening the health sector involvement in this issue and education people on why female circumcision is harmful. Stop FGM Now is a campaign working to stop female genital mutilation. You can learn more about how to get involved and save women from female genital mutilation at their website.