Female genital cutting

Key Facts:
– Over 200 million girls and women in 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM).
– FGM primarily occurs in girls aged infancy to 15, constituting a violation of their human rights.
– Health complications from FGM cost health systems an estimated US$1.4 billion annually, with this figure expected to rise without prompt abandonment measures.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) encompasses procedures involving the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It offers no health benefits, causing severe complications such as bleeding, urinary issues, infections, childbirth complications, and heightened newborn mortality.

Human Rights Violation:
Internationally recognized as a violation of human rights, FGM perpetuates gender inequality and constitutes extreme discrimination against girls and women. Traditional practitioners, often violating the rights of minors, carry out this practice. Health care providers’ increasing involvement in FGM is discouraged by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Types of FGM:
FGM is categorized into four major types based on the extent of genital alteration, ranging from partial removal to narrowing of the vaginal opening. Type 4 includes various harmful procedures for non-medical purposes.

No Health Benefits, Only Harm:
FGM inflicts physical and psychological harm on girls and women, with immediate complications including pain, bleeding, infections, and even death. Long-term consequences encompass urinary, vaginal, menstrual, and sexual problems, as well as increased childbirth complications.

At-Risk Population:
FGM is predominantly performed on young girls but can also occur in adolescence or adulthood. More than 200 million females have undergone FGM, with over 3 million girls at risk annually, making it a global concern.

Cultural and Social Factors:
Motivations for FGM vary regionally and include social norms, societal pressure, preparation for adulthood, and misguided religious beliefs. WHO emphasizes the need for abandonment and supports health care providers advocating against FGM.

WHO Response:
The World Health Assembly passed a resolution in 2008 for the elimination of FGM, urging collective action across sectors. WHO supports a holistic health sector response, offering guidance, resources, and a global strategy against FGM medicalization.

WHO actively works on FGM prevention, care, and research, emphasizing a comprehensive approach involving health, education, finance, justice, and women’s affairs.

Recent Developments:
WHO celebrates 50 years of research on sexual and reproductive health and launches new training tools for health-care providers on FGM prevention and care.

In Summary:
FGM remains a significant global challenge, demanding collaborative efforts to eradicate this harmful practice and safeguard the well-being and rights of girls and women worldwide.

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