FGM is a sensitive and often taboo issue, enshrined within complex political, social, cultural and religious perceptions that go to the heart of gender identity and gender relations.

We can’t end FGM, or any form of violence against women,
unless we dare to talk about it.

Although the most affected countries are in Africa, FGM is an issue in many other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Asia, and countries with diaspora populations from affected countries, including in Europe and North America.

When you meet up with different people, your friends and colleagues,these are some of the things you could talk out with them.

 

What is FGM?

FGM includes 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.

Why is FGM a harmful practice?

FGM is an expression of gender inequality and a form of violence against women. The effects of FGM last a lifetime, and sometimes the emotional scars take longer to heal than the physical ones. It can cause severe pain, bleeding, problems urinating, cysts, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth, and even death. The psychological effects of FGM can include
post-traumatic stress and depression.

Why do we need to End FGM?

No form of violence against women and girls is justifiable. Women and girls have a right to be safe and protected, free from fear and harm. We have an individual and collective responsibility to support efforts to protect girls from harm. Ending FGM can be a catalyst for change, going hand-in-hand with other gender equality issues, including child marriage, girls’ education, and ‘honour’-based violence.

No country can achieve its full potential, socially or economically, when half of its population is heldback by extreme forms of discrimination. Although the most affected countries are in Africa, FGM is an issue in many other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Asia, and countries with diaspora populations from affected countries, including in Europe and North America.

Is FGM performed by medical practitioners’ safer procedure with less complications?

FGM is always a violation of human rights. Medicalisation does not make FGM less harmful. Complications will arise whether or not the procedure has been done by a medical professional.

Psychological and mental health implications can last a life time induced by shock and distress during the procedure and health complications related to infections, pregnancy and childbirth.

Medicalisation is defined by the WHO as “when FGM is practiced by any category of health care provider, whether in a public or private clinic, at home or elsewhere.” The graphics on the next page will tell you more about medicalisation.

No country can achieve its full potential, socially or economically, when half of its population is held back by extreme forms of discrimination. Although the most affected countries are in Africa, FGM is an issue in many other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Asia, and countries with diaspora populations from affected countries, including in Europe and North America.

Who can join in the campaign to end FGM?

FGM is everyone’s issue, and each of us can play a role in creating a world that is safe for girls. Together we can change the course of history for the next generation of women and girls, in Africa and beyond.

Is FGM a religious issue?

FGM is often erroneously linked to religion, but it is not particular to any faith, and predates both Christianity and Islam.

Really-you want me to talk about FGM?

FGM is a difficult topic to talk about. But it touches on many other issues which are easier to engage with – like girl’s education, community protection or women’s and child health. Opening up the conversation by asking people about their interests, their views on a certain issue, or the challenges in their community can be a good way to lead into a discussion about FGM.

Asking someone’s opinion is a good opener – rather than telling them what you think, which can shut the conversation down.

Speaking out with respect - Do No Harm

The language we use when talking about FGM matters. We must be careful not to victimise or stigmatise FGM survivors or people from practicing communities, instead empowering them and emboldening them to end the practice Do No Harm is critical for empowering and protecting women and activists working to end FGM. Do no harm is extremely important given the complexity and sensitivity of the issue. Unless we plan carefully and consider the risks and harm that we might inadvertently or unintentionally cause, we can do more harm than good. It protects vulnerable groups from harm and resistance and provides a
shared vision and set of principles to help unify and grow the movement.