Throughout the world, 100 to 140 million girls and women are living with the consequences of genital mutilation. (Source : WHO)
In Africa, nearly 92 million girls aged 10 or above have undergone this practice. (Source : WHO)
In Mali, in 2008, 92% of Malian women aged 15 to 49 had been excised. (Source : UNICEF)
In Egypt, in 2005, 96% of women aged 15 to 49 had been excised. (Source : UNICEF)
Today, 11% of girls aged 0 to 18, belonging to high-risk population in France, are threatened by FGM. 20 years ago, statistics were in the 70-90% range. (INES)
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. Female Genital Mutilations are internationally recognized as a violation of girls' and women's rights.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) distinguishes four major types of female genital mutilation:
The reasons of this tradition
The main risk factor for genital mutilations is linked to traditional ethnic rather than religious practices. FGM is frequently a component of fertility or coming-of-age rituals, and are generally regarded as a way to ensure the chastity or “genital purity” of young women. It can be performed at any time between infancy and puberty until the age of 15.
The mutilation is performed by traditional (male or female) circumcisers, who often hold a crucial role in the life of the communities, frequently as midwives or healers. But the genital mutilations are also increasingly carried out by health professionals trained in modern medicine.
Consequences on health
Female genital mutilations present absolutely no health benefits and are harmful for women and young girls. Apart from inhibiting women’s genital pleasure, immediate and delayed complications include violent pains, septic shock, haemorrhage, tetanus, septicaemia, urine retention, or complications at childbirth.
The practice of excision is most common in Sub-Saharan Africa, in some regions of the Middle-East and in South-East Asia (Indonesia, Yemen, Malaysia). Despite official bans on excision in 15 African countries, FGM practices were recorded in 28 countries (e.g. Mali, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Somalia, Guinea) as of October 2007.
Western countries hosting large communities of migrants take action against FGM practices on their national territory (e.g. France and the Malian community) and attempt to raise community awareness to the eradication of this practice in their own countries.
Progress to eliminate the Female Genital Mutilation
Progress made on a local and international scale over the past few years includes:
Recent research has revealed that the practice could disappear very quickly if these communities were to decide on their own to abandon female genital mutilations.
A United Nations resolution to ban female genital mutilation
On December 20, 2012 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution banning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. This significant milestone towards the ending of harmful practices and violations was taken by the 194 UN Member States. The FGM resolution urges countries to take all necessary measures, including enforcing legislation, awareness-raising and allocating sufficient resources to protect women and girls from this form of violence.