- Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that
intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for
- The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
- Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating,
and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
- An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are
currently living with the consequences of FGM.
- It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between
infancy and age 15 years.
- In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age
and above have undergone FGM.
- FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human
rights of girls and women.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) 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
The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers,
who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending
childbirths. Increasingly, however, FGM is being performed by health
FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human
rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality
between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination
against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a
violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a
person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the
right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in
Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia
for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising,
scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
No health benefits, only harm
FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many
ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female
genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls'
and women's bodies.
Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock,
haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection),
urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to
nearby genital tissue.
Long-term consequences can include:
- recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
- an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn
- the need for later surgeries. For example, the FGM procedure
that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3 above) needs to be
cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth.
Sometimes it is stitched again several times, including after
childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and
closing procedures, further increasing and repeated both immediate
and long-term risks.
Who is at risk?
Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between
infancy and age 15, and occasionally on adult women. In Africa,
about three million girls are at risk for FGM annually.
Between 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are living
with the consequences of FGM. In Africa, about 92 million girls age
10 years and above are estimated to have undergone FGM.
The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and
north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the
Middle East, and among certain immigrant communities in North
America and Europe.
Cultural, religious and social causes
The causes of female genital mutilation include a mix of
cultural, religious and social factors within families and
- Where FGM is a social convention, the social pressure to
conform to what others do and have been doing is a strong
motivation to perpetuate the practice.
- FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl
properly, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage.
- FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered
proper sexual behaviour, linking procedures to premarital
virginity and marital fidelity. FGM is in many communities
believed to reduce a woman's libido, and thereby is further
believed to help her resist "illicit" sexual acts. When a vaginal
opening is covered or narrowed (type 3 above), the fear of pain of
opening it, and the fear that this will be found out, is expected
to further discourage "illicit" sexual intercourse among women
with this type of FGM.
- FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and
modesty, which include the notion that girls are “clean” and
"beautiful" after removal of body parts that are considered "male"
- Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice,
practitioners often believe the practice has religious support.
- Religious leaders take varying positions with regard to FGM:
some promote it, some consider it irrelevant to religion, and
others contribute to its elimination.
- Local structures of power and authority, such as community
leaders, religious leaders, circumcisers, and even some medical
personnel can contribute to upholding the practice.
- In most societies, FGM is considered a cultural tradition,
which is often used as an argument for its continuation.
- In some societies, recent adoption of the practice is linked
to copying the traditions of neighbouring groups. Sometimes it has
started as part of a wider religious or traditional revival
- In some societies, FGM is being practised by new groups when
they move into areas where the local population practice FGM.
In 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a joint
statement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) against the practice of FGM.
A new statement, with wider United Nations support, was then issued
in February 2008 to support increased advocacy for the abandonment
The 2008 statement documents new evidence collected over the past
decade about the practice. It highlights the increased recognition
of the human rights and legal dimensions of the problem and provides
current data on the frequency and scope of FGM. It also summarizes
research about why FGM continues, how to stop it, and its damaging
effects on the health of women, girls and newborn babies.
Since 1997, great efforts have been made to counteract FGM,
through research, work within communities, and changes in public
policy. Progress at both international and local levels includes:
- wider international involvement to stop FGM;
- the development of international monitoring bodies and
resolutions that condemn the practice;
- revised legal frameworks and growing political support to end
- in some countries, decreasing practice of FGM, and an
increasing number of women and men in practising communities who
declare their support to end it.
Research shows that, if practising communities themselves decide
to abandon FGM, the practice can be eliminated very rapidly.
In 2008, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution (WHA61.16)
on the elimination of FGM, emphasizing the need for concerted action
in all sectors - health, education, finance, justice and women's
WHO efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation focus on:
- advocacy: developing publications and advocacy tools for
international, regional and local efforts to end FGM within a
- research: generating knowledge about the causes and
consequences of the practice, how to eliminate it, and how to care
for those who have experienced FGM;
- guidance for health systems: developing training materials and
guidelines for health professionals to help them treat and counsel
women who have undergone procedures.
WHO is particularly concerned about the increasing trend for
medically trained personnel to perform FGM. WHO strongly urges
health professionals not to perform such procedures.
For more information contact:
WHO Media centre
+41 22 791 2222
Intact America, one of the more active
child-protection organizations, is taking on the AAP. They
previously did a good job getting signatures to petition the
CDC to not advocate the official medical quackery of
boy-mutilation as a method to "prevent AIDS". Historically,
boy-mutilation was originally proposed in the Americas as a
measure to "prevent masturbation" and specifically the
heinous disease known as "masturbatory insanity". That was
an officially-recognized disorder in the medical journals of
the late 1800s, and the Christian or non-religious MDs of
that day, just as today, fell under persuasion from Jewish
doctors that it would be a good thing if everyone did it.
And so within 50 years or so, it exploded from a tiny
percentage of immigrants, into a mainstream mutilation of
nearly 80% of all men in the English-speaking world, where
it had previously not existed. Today, it is promoted, also
without evidence, as a "hygenic" measure -- a ridiculous
argument when one considers how most of the world's male
population is intact, not mutilated, and is not suffering
from epidemics of genital disease, including AIDS. With hard
work in public education by oppositional groups, the rates
in the USA are today down to about 50% of all baby boys.
That's still 50% too high, and even Jewish activists have
joined the anti-mutilation organizations, seeking to end
Intact-America is today taking on the AAP
over its approval of girl-mutilation, something which the
AAP did under pressure from largely-Muslim doctors servicing
the Islamic communities, who either want to mutilate the
genitals of girls, or who think they can reduce the more
serious mutilations by doing smaller ones in the hospitals.
Muslims (and a few Coptic Christians) do these mutilations
for basically the same religious-superstitions reasons as
did the masturbation-anxious physicians of 100 years ago.
The AAP thinks a "small cut" will be sufficient to mollify
misogynistic immigrants whose ideology views female sexual
feeling as a dirty evil needing to be stamped out. The goal
of FGM always was, to wipe out the female sexual drive. So
this measure by the AAP, if it stands, will be used in
opposition to existing laws which make FGM a criminal act.
In fact what will happen is, with the AAP approvals, Muslim
doctors will begin doing it, and test cases will then go to
the courts. They will firstly do only the "little nick", and
argue with smooth-talk, with arrogant proclamations that
even if it is illegal they will "do it anyhow" so why not
"keep it sanitary, in the hospitals", with PC victimhood and
"religious freedom" language. "The Jews are allowed to
give the holy sacraments to their boy's penises, to cleanse
them of The Devil of sexual feeling, so we should be allowed
to bless our girls and rid them of The Devil of sexual
feeling in the same manner" they will say. And the
courts will probably go along with it, striking down
existing federal and state laws prohibiting the mutilations.
and thinking it will remain "only a nick". But from there,
we will see special clinics devoted to Islamic FGM, just as
exist within the Muslim world. And the horrific nature of it
will grow, with full clitoridectomies, as nobody in social
services will be checking up on such girls. And it will fit
magnificently with veils, polygamy, child-marriages (old men
to young girls), mosque-violence against infidels, and all
the rest which life-hating PC ideology already tries to
justify and defend. It will then grow and spread, and only
20 years down the road when older women come forward will
the NYT or other lib-newspapers write a hand-wringing
articles about "how could this have developed?", ignoring
their long-time role in Islamic apologetics.
Evidence from clinics in Africa already have
shown how compromises on the mutilations allows them to grow
and spread, while strict forbiddance with criminal penalties
and loss-of-license for professionals who do them, works to
reduce them in a dramatic manner.
This must be stopped before it emerges into
daylight, after which it gets social oxygen and spreads. The
AAP needs to reverse this ill-considered approval of "the
little nick", which will grow into full-scale FGM as seen
elsewhere in the world.
Your signature would help. See below.
You can add to or edit their form-letter as
desired. Professionals especially are encouraged, to take a
stand, using your full names and credentials.
If this issue is important to you, to stop
boy-mutilation and girl-mutilation, consider to get on the
mailing list of this organization and spread the information
through your own personal networks.
James DeMeo, PhD
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25,278 Petition Signatures Delivered To
(in opposition to boy-mutilation as an "AIDS prevention"
But now America's baby girls
are at risk!
Please take action to protect them
In late April, I spoke via conference call
with Dr. Peter Kilmarx, Chief of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the
Centers for Disease Control, and several other officials
from the CDC, to urge them to refrain from recommending
routine circumcision for baby boys. I told them Intact
America had a petition from thousands of you who felt the
On May 6th, we followed up by sending 25,278 signatures to
the CDC to drive home the message.
I want to thank you and the tens of thousands of
intactivists who added your names to this petition calling
for the protection of our baby boys.
It's not over between us and the CDC. We'll be in touch to
let you know its response to our petition.
But our efforts can't end here.
A new threat has
surfaced, and this time it's our baby girls
who are at risk.
Late last month, the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new policy statement calling for a
lift of the Federal ban outlawing all forms of female
genital mutilation ("FGM") in the United States.
We are stunned by this affront to 30 years of global efforts
to stop female genital cutting.
Please send a letter to the AAP
demanding that it retract its dangerously misguided policy
statement immediately and leave our baby girls intact!
Thank you again for all that you do to help
keep America's babies intact.
Executive Director, Intact America
Good news, and bad... Little girls across the
USA can breathe a little easier tonight.
Following a howl of protest from multiple persons
and organizations, dozens of letters from every quarter,
professionals, women's groups, private individuals, the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reversed and dropped its recent
ill-conceived approval for female genital mutilation. Here's a
WELCOMES DECISION BY AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS (AAP) TO
WITHDRAW ITS 2010 POLICY STATEMENT ON FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)
THAT ENDORSED PEDIATRICANS’ “NICKING” OF GIRLS’ GENITALIA
New York -
International human rights organization Equality Now welcomes the
AAP’s decision to withdraw its ill-conceived revised policy
statement on female genital mutilation (FGM) issued on April 26,
2010. The new policy statement essentially promoted Type IV FGM,
as categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO), and
suggested that federal and state laws might be more effective if
they “enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a
‘ritual nick’.” In a release issued today, the AAP stated that it
has “retired” its 2010 revised statement on FGM, is opposed to
“all forms of female genital cutting” and “does not endorse the
practice of offering a 'clitoral nick.'”
following the announcement about AAP’s new policy statement on
April 26, 2010, Equality Now launched a global campaign, which
called on its membership of over 35,000 individuals and
organizations from 160 countries to put pressure on the AAP to
revoke its statement. The outpouring of deep concern demonstrated
by several women’s rights advocates, human rights organizations,
health care providers, and individual members around the world in
response to this campaign has been inspiring and overwhelming. A
significant outcome of Equality Now’s campaign was also a
statement jointly signed by WHO and United Nations agencies,
UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNIFEM, that challenged the AAP’s contentions
about FGM and the harm any of its forms, including ‘nicking’,
cause girls and women. The WHO/UN statement also confirmed the
importance of looking at all forms of FGM as a form of violence
and discrimination against women and girls.
“This is a crucial
step forward in the movement to continue raising awareness about
FGM, especially in the U.S., where it is practiced by some
immigrant communities. This campaign has brought to light the
importance of identifying FGM as a harmful cultural practice that
together we must and can end. The work of the African anti-FGM
grassroots movement has finally reached our shores and we hope to
move forward and ensure the protection of girls in the U.S. and
elsewhere from the practice,” says Taina Bien-Aimé, Equality Now’s
Executive Director. Ironically, news reports today indicate that
the AAP is not isolated in its misunderstandings about FGM and the
Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians is now
planning to discuss backing "ritual nicks", a modified form of
genital mutilation, next month. Taina Bien-Aimé further warned,
“Before heading in the wrong direction on this issue, the Royal
Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians must learn from
the experience of the international campaign against AAP, and from
the resounding clarification provided in the WHO/UN joint
Equality Now hopes
that the momentum built around discussions about FGM continues in
the US with the swift passage of The Girls Protection Act (H.R.
5137), a new bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman
Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) that
would close the loophole in the federal law prohibiting FGM by
making it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the U.S. out
of the country for the purpose of FGM. The bill will hopefully
also call for the launch of culturally sensitive outreach programs
in FGM-practicing immigrant communities in the U.S. to educate
parents about the lifelong harms of FGM.
Equality Now is an
international human rights organization that works to protect and
promote the civil, political, economic and social rights of girls
and women around the world.
Sometimes public criticism and protest works. Now, if only little
boys can be equally protected, with an end to this violent contempt
for the penis and male sexuality.
The bad news: Australia is considering an identical ruling to the
AAP, to allow for "limited" female genital mutilation, which as
discussed in prior postings will most certainly plant the seeds for
more horrific mutilations later on.
A better solution would be to give a lengthy prison
sentence and then deport any "Islamic cutter" -- the
sadist-specialists who travel from home to home and perform this
butchery -- and to likewise punish with jail terms and/or deport the
fathers and mothers who do such a barbaric act, or any "health"
professional who does so. There is a need for muscle and teeth
in laws for protection of children against razor wielding sadists,
with or without the "seal of approval" of medical organizations or