Female Genital Mutilation
Female genital mutilation is currently practiced in 26 African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries. The most severe forms are primarily in Somalian and Sudanese populations. More than 130 million women and girls have undergone some form of FGM. The types of FGM are:
1. Sunna circumcision: The skin covering the clitoris and the tip of the clitoris are removed. This is the least disfiguring, and also the least commonly done.
2. Cliterodectomy: Involves removal of the clitoris; also may cut away some of the surrounding labial tissue at the opening of the vagina.
3. Infibulation: The most mutilating. The clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora are removed. The tissue around the vagina is sewn shut, leaving only a small opening (often the size of a matchstick head) for urination and menstruation.
FGM is usually performed between the ages of 4 and 10, although depending on the community it may be done in infancy or postponed until just before marriage. It is typically performed by untrained people with no anesthesia. It's done with instruments ranging from knives, razor blades, or broken glass. Thorns, catgut, or horsehair is often used to hold the raw skin edges together.
20% of women die immediately or soon after the procedure. In recent years, 8 African countries and Egypt have outlawed FGM, as have 7 Western countries, including the US. The UN estimates it will take another 3 decades to eliminate FGM.