Female genital mutilation is also sometimes called circumcision.

Circumcision is also performed on men. In men, circumcision removes the foreskin of the penis.

In girls and women the clitoris is removed and sometimes also parts of the inner labia. Sometimes the labia are also sewn together. Sometimes the entrance to the vagina is also sewn shut. That's why the term "mutilation" is used; it describes what really happens.

Female genital mutilation is still performed in many countries in Africa and some countries in Asia. Women from the family or the community will do it when the girls are still young. Female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights. In Europe it is forbidden by law. People who mutilate the genitals of girls or women can be punished with imprisonment.

The World Health Organization distinguishes different types of female genital mutilation:

  • a partial or complete removal of the clitoris (Type 1)
  • a partial or complete removal of the clitoris and the labia (Type 2)
  • sewing the labia together, leaving only a small opening for urine and blood to be excreted from the body (type 3)
  • all other harmful interventions on the visible sexual organs of a woman, for example, pricking, cutting, scratching and burning.
Female genital mutilation - Type 1: clitoris is removed.
Female genital mutilation - Type 2: labia are removed.
Female genital mutilation - Type 3: labia are sewn together.

Female genital mutilation is dangerous to the health of girls and women.

Direct consequences of genital mutilation can be:

  • severe pain
  • fever
  • severe bleeding that can lead to death
  • injury to other organs
  • extreme fear, trauma
  • inflammation in the genitals or even in the whole body
  • tetanus
  • contraction of HIV or other STIs
  • pain when urinating

Consequences for girls in puberty and later in life as adults can be:

Various organizations can give you counselling if female genital mutilation has been inflicted upon you or if you are afraid that it could be inflicted on you. For example here:

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