Female Genital Mutilation

Over 200 million women worldwide are affected by female genital mutilation (FGM). According to UNFPA’s 2020 State of World Population Report, which focuses on harmful practices, the number of girls and women who are subjected to FGM each year could rise from 4.1 million in 2020 to 4.6 million in 2030. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, as harmful practices such as FGM and early marriage increase in times of crisis.

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More Information

Tradition demands it

The current situation

200 million women and girls are affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) .

Girls and women who have undergone FGM often suffer for the rest of their lives, experiencing pain and lack of pleasure during sex, infertility, complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and trauma.

Three million more girls and women are affected by it each year.

Female genital mutilation is prohibited almost everywhere. Despite this, 8,000 girls are subjected to the cruel practice every day.

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is a medical-mechanical procedure that is rooted in the traditions of the communities that perform it. FGM can cause serious health problems and violates the human rights of women and girls. There are different types of FGM, all of which pose a serious threat to the physical and mental health of women and girls. According to UNFPA, although the overall proportion of girls and women affected by FGM is decreasing, the absolute number of girls and women subjected to the practice is increasing due to population growth.

FGM and other harmful practices reflect the fact that girls and women are not free to make decisions about their bodies and their lives. It is essential that the effects of these practices are openly discussed and that education is provided, particularly in the countries most affected. There needs to be greater awareness of how life-threatening and traumatising they are for girls and young women. It must also be made clear to men that female genital mutilation also destroys the basis for a healthy and fulfilling love relationship. Patriarchal structures can only be overcome by breaking the silence.

Consequences of female genital mutilation

The short-term consequences of female genital mutilation include severe pain, bleeding, infection and even death. Many suffer lifelong trauma, psychological problems, reduced pleasure during sex, infertility, childbirth complications and an increased risk of stillbirth. Interpersonal relationships are also affected by the consequences of FGM. The practice benefits nobody.

Risks during pregnancy

Female genital mutilation increases the risk of severe birth injuries and postpartum haemorrhage. Because to FGM, the vaginal opening is too small, resulting in women often experiencing a very long labour. This increases the risk of vaginal fistula.

High risk of infection

Non-sterile objects such as knives, razor blades or even shards of glass are often used during the procedure. The wound often becomes infected immediately after. Women who have undergone FGM are also at higher risk of infection in the long term. For example, if urine and menstrual blood cannot drain properly after FGM.

Mental illness

Female genital mutilation is not only a serious physical procedure – it also causes severe trauma. The shock and severe psychological stress can lead to behavioural disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder in girls and women. In the long term, those affected often suffer from chronic anxiety.

Sex becomes agony

What we do

In addition to raising awareness about the effects of FGM, girls must be supported in finishing school instead of being married off at an early age. This will increase their chances of earning their own income as adults and leading a self-determined life.

Our aim is to inform and empower not only young people, but also as many stakeholders as possible, so that they can take an active role in promoting gender equality and combating harmful practices. This includes policy makers, religious leaders, teachers, as well as survivors and those at risk themselves.

Sexual freedom for women and girls

Empowering women is one of our main goals! FGM is a practice that primarily reinforces the social role of men. FGM is intended to impair a woman’s ability to have sex and thus prevent her from being unfaithful. However, every woman has the right to make her own decisions about her sexuality.

Sexuality education changes perspectives

FGM is a cultural practice, but cultures can change. That is why young people from our youth clubs are working to educate not only girls and their parents about the serious consequences of FGM, but also their communities. We train peer educators who know exactly how to inform others about the issue and bring about a change in attitude.

A rethink in religion and politics

Creation of alternative rituals

Female genital mutilation is seen as a transition to adulthood and a prerequisite for marriage. Alternative rituals can be created to replace this harmful practice. We are committed to this and are in close dialogue with social and religious opinion leaders.

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