Although primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it is also practised in some countries in Asia and Latin America. But what Bishara did not know was that it would leave her with irregular periods, bladder problems, and recurrent infections. She was only able to give birth via Caesarean section. Female genital mutilation, or FGM for short, is the deliberate cutting or removal of a female's external genitalia. It often involves the removal or cutting of the labia and clitoris, and the World Health Organization describes it as "any procedure that injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons". Omnia Ibrahim, a blogger and film maker from Egypt, says FGM is distressing and damages women's relationships and how they feel about themselves.
'My Clitoris Was Cut Off When I Was 11'
Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised - The Atlantic
Many international groups are concerned about FGC, which is practiced extensively in parts of Africa and the Middle East and is linked to infections, infertility, and childbirth complications. Organizations such as the United Nations have campaigned against the practice, calling for its abolition as a matter of global health and human rights. While younger women are increasingly going uncut in countries such as Nigeria and the Central African Republic, according to a survey by the Population Reference Bureau, in Egypt more than 80 percent of teenagers still undergo the procedure. So what can foreign activists—as well as locals who oppose female genital cutting—do to curb the practice?
What is FGM, where does it happen and why?
But for some girls, the message is that, to be accepted by the wider community, their bodies must be cut, altered and even reshaped through a practice known as female genital mutilation FGM. Often viewed as a rite of passage, FGM can result in serious health complications, including infections, chronic pain and infertility. It can even be deadly. Despite being internationally recognized as a human rights violation, some million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, and if current rates persist, an estimated 68 million more will be cut between and Girls at a school in Kenya, where many students are receiving support after running away from home to avoid FGM and child marriage.
Saffiatu Sillah, whose circumcision caused her to endure agonizing pain during the births of her children, Mijan Kamara, foreground, and Jaria Kamara, asked a surgeon to help her. By Pam Belluck. Photographs by Maddie McGarvey.