Female Genital Mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO). It is also sometimes referred to as female genital cutting or female circumcision. There are no health benefits to FGM and it is recognised internationally as a human rights violation.
Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types:
- Type 1 – Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
- Type 2 – Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).
- Type 3 – Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
- Type 4 – Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
Prevalence of FGM
Note: In Liberia, girls and women who have heard of the Sande society were asked whether they were members; this provides indirect information on FGM/C since it is performed during initiation into the society.
Source: UNICEF global databases, 2014, based on DHS, MICS and other nationally representative surveys, 2004-2013.
FORWARD’s work on FGM
FORWARD works in the UK, Europe and Africa to safeguard girls at risk of FGM and support women affected. We do this through direct community engagement, advocacy and strategic partnerships. You can read more about our work in the UK here, Europe here and our work in Africa here.
60,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK
137,000 girls and women are living with the consequences of FGM in the UK
Over 130 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM
FGM is practiced in more than 29 countries across Africa, parts of the Middle East, South East Asia and countries where migrants from FGM affected communities live.
If you think you or someone you know is at risk of FGM, click here for advice on seeking support.
To find out more about FGM, please refer to FORWARD’s resources:
FGM & Islam
FGM Frequently Asked Questions
CHANGE – Responding to FGM – A Guide for Key Professionals