What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Cutting instruments include knives, broken glass and razor blades and in some cases, the circumciser may have acquired a medical instrument such as a scalpel, forceps or scissors.

girls campaigning agains FGM


FGM has no health benefits for girls and women. FGM is a violation of the human rights of women and girls. More than 200 million women and girls alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated. In Somalia, the prevalence rate of FGM is 99%, which is the highest incidence of FGM in the world. 

FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, as well as cysts, infections, complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

Types of FGM

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM procedures are classified into four major types:


Partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris). This procedure is often referred to as clitoridectomy.


Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva). This procedure is often referred to as excision.


Infibulation is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).


This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes. Type 4 procedures include pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Risks and Complications

Infections: Genital abscesses (sores filled with pus that must be drained) and infectious diseases such as hepatitis B.

Mental Health: Depression, anxiety and trauma. Girls may also experience shock as they may not understand what was done to them or why.​

Fistula: An opening between the urethra and vagina that lets urine run into the vagina. This can happen when the urethra is damaged during FGM/C. Fistula causes incontinence and other problems, including odours, and can cause girls and women to become social outcasts.

Sexual Health: Pain, especially during sex, is caused by extra scar tissue, which is common after type 2 or type 3 procedures.

Childbirth: Problems during and after childbirth. Women may be at risk for longer labour and caesarean section. They are also more at risk for excessive bleeding after childbirth.

Urinary and + Menstrual Problems: Problems urinating and painful menstrual periods. Some women are left with only a small opening for urinating and menstrual bleeding. They may not be able to pass all of their menstrual blood or urine. This can cause infections, pain, and periods that are longer than normal.

FGM is mostly commonly carried out on young girls, aged 7 or 8 in Somalia

Ifrah Ahmed, Founder
What is FGM? By EU End FGM Network