why do they practice female genital mutilation

Type I: Also known as clitoridectomy, this type consists of partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or its prepuce. Type II: Also known as excision, the clitoris and labia minora are partially or totally removed, with or without excision of the labia majora. Type III: The most severe form, it is also known as infibulation or pharaonic type. The procedure consists of narrowing the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or labia majora, with or without removal of the clitoris. The appositioning of the wound edges consists of stitching or holding the cut areas together for a certain period of time (for example, girlsБ legs are bound together), to create the covering seal. A small opening is left for urine and menstrual blood to escape. An infibulation must be opened either through penetrative sexual intercourse or surgery. Type IV: This type consists of all other procedures to the genitalia of women for non-medical purposes, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. Recent estimates indicate that around 90% of cases include clitoridectomy, excision or cases where girlsБ genitals are БnickedБ but no flesh removed (Type IV), and about 10% are infibulations (WHO). See drawings that illustrate the types of FGM (Courtesy American Association of Paediatrics). In this short video, Comfort Momoh tells you the facts you need to know about FGM:
Consequences of FGM Immediate consequences of FGM include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death.


T he procedure can result in death through severe bleeding leading to haemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock as a result of pain and trauma, and overwhelming infection and septicaemia, according to Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Almost all women who have undergone FGM experience pain and bleeding as a consequence of the procedure. The event itself is traumatic as girls are held down during the procedure. Risk and complications increase with the type of FGM and are more severe and prevalent with infibulations. БThe pain inflicted by FGM does not stop with the initial procedure, but often continues as ongoing torture throughout a womanБs life Б, says Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. In addition to the severe pain during and in the weeks following the cutting, women who have undergone FGM experience various long-term effects - physical, sexual and psychological. Women may experience chronic pain, chronic pelvic infections, development of cysts, abscesses and genital ulcers, excessive scar tissue formation, infection of the reproductive system, decreased sexual enjoyment and psychological consequences, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Additional risks for complications from infibulations include urinary and menstrual problems, infertility, later surgery (defibulation and reinfibulation) and painful sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse can only take place after opening the infibulation, through surgery or penetrative sexual intercourse.


Consequently, sexual intercourse is frequently painful during the first weeks after sexual initiation and the male partner can also experience pain and complications. When giving birth, the scar tissue might tear, or the opening needs to be cut to allow the baby to come out. After childbirth, women from some ethnic communities are often sown up again to make them БtightБ for their husband (reinfibulation). Such cutting and restitching of a womanБs genitalia results in painful scar tissue. A multi-country study by WHO in six African countries, showed that women who had undergone FGM, had significantly increased risks for adverse events during childbirth, and that genital mutilation in mothers has negative effects on their newborn babies. According to the study, an additional one to two babies per 100 deliveries die as a result of FGM. Between 100 million and 140 million women and girls are thought to be living with the consequences of female genital mutilation, according to the. FGM is defined by the WHO as "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". It is recognised as a violation of the human rights of women and girls. In December 2012, the United Nations general assembly unanimously voted to work for the throughout the world. "It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women," says the WHO. "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 death. " Just how many girls and women have been subjected to FGM is hard to know. The data is not easy to collect for obvious reasons. Last year published what it described as the most comprehensive compilation of data and analysis on the prevalence of FGM in Africa and the Middle East. Using more than 70 national surveys, produced over a period of more than 20 years, the report focused on the 29 countries where the practice is most common. In eight countries, almost all young girls are cut. In Somalia, the prevalence is 98%, in Guinea 96%, in Djibouti 93% and in Egypt, in spite of its partly westernised image, 91%. In Eritrea and Mali the figure is 89% and a prevalence of 88% was reported in both Sierra Leone and Sudan. In some countries, FGM has been medicalised. In Egypt, most of the cutting is undertaken by trained healthcare professionals, which reduces the risk of infection, pain and bleeding, but serves to make the procedure appear acceptable within the country, in the face of the UN resolution. But in countries where more than one survey has been done, it does appear that the number of girls who have been cut is slowly reducing. The UN population fund and Unicef, the UN children's fund, say 8,000 communities in Africa have agreed to abandon the traditional practice.


They have been involved in supporting awareness of the health and human rights issues, in negotiations and discussions with the leaders of the communities and in suggesting alternative rituals. Where this process is successful, the social status and marriage prospects of young girls are not damaged as they could be if their families acted alone. In some countries, FGM is a rite of passage, which marks a girl's transition to womanhood and her readiness to marry. It is also motivated by beliefs about sexual behaviour and virginity and chastity. "FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman's libido and therefore believed to help her resist 'illicit' sexual acts. When a vaginal opening is covered or narrowed [as is the case in the more extreme forms of FGM], the fear of the 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," says the WHO. There is also a belief in some cases that women's genitalia are unfeminine, ugly or unclean. Apart from the pain and distress involved in the procedure at the time, there can be long-term health consequences, even sometimes involving infertility. Bladder and urinary tract infections and cysts are not uncommon. There is an increased risk of problems during childbirth, which could in extreme cases lead to the death of the baby. Where FGM involves sewing up or narrowing the vaginal opening, this must be undone to allow sexual intercourse and then before the woman can give birth.

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