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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) In Africa
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African Countries With The Highest FGM Prevalence Rates
Other African Countries Where FGM Has Been Documented
What Is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
Types Of FGM - images
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There are an estimated 100 to 200 million girls and women currently living globally with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, the majority of whom live in Africa. Mostly carried out before a girl reaches the age of 15, and with no associated medical benefits, this barbaric custom can cause severe bleeding, bladder complications, repeat infections, and can also lead to childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
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Data released by United Nations November 2009 - Next data release unconfirmed - Possibly late 2010/early 2011
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Countries With The Highest Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Prevalence Rates In Africa
Country Source [1] Year [2] Estimated % prevalence of FGM in girls and women 15-49 years [3]
1 Somalia MICS 2006 97.9
2 Egypt DHS 2005 95.8
3 Guinea DHS 2005 95.6
4 Sierra Leone MICS 2005 94.0
5 Djibouti MICS 2006 93.1
6 Sudan Local Survey [4] 2006 89.3
7 Eritrea DHS 2002 88.7
8 Mali DHS 2006 85.2
9 Gambia MICS 2005-6 78.3
10 Ethiopia DHS 2005 74.3
11 Burkina Faso MICS 2006 72.5
12 Mauritania MICS 2007 72.2
13 Liberia DHS 2007 58.3
14 Chad DHS 2004 44.9
15 Guinea-Bissau MICS 2006 44.5
16 Ivory Coast MICS 2006 36.4
17 Kenya DHS 2003 32.2
18 Senegal DHS 2005 28.2
19 Central African Republic MICS 2006 25.7
20 Nigeria DHS 2003 19.0
21 Tanzania DHS 2004-5 14.6
22 Benin DHS 2006 12.9
23 Togo MICS 2006 5.8
24 Ghana MICS 2006 3.8
25 Niger DHS 2006 2.2
26 Cameroon DHS 2004 1.4
27 Zambia Local Survey [5] 2005 0.9
28 Uganda DHS 2006 0.6
Other Countries Where Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Has Been Documented In Africa
According to the UN, FGM has not been recently documented in any other African countries, however, there has been anecdotal reports indicating FGM having taken place within migrant populations in DR Congo [6]
What Is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Source: World Health Organisation, 'Female Genital Mutilation Factsheet'

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises 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. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. Increasingly, however, FGM is being performed by health care providers. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Key facts:
Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons
The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women
Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths
An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM
It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years
In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM
FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women

FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.

Long-term consequences:
recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections
an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths
the need for later surgeries. For example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth. Sometimes it is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing and repeated both immediate and long-term risks

Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15, and occasionally on adult women. In Africa, about three million girls are at risk for FGM annually. The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among certain immigrant communities in North America and Europe. The causes of female genital mutilation include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities.

Cultural, religious and social causes/beliefs:
Where FGM is a social convention, the social pressure to conform to what others do and have been doing is a strong motivation to perpetuate the practice
FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl properly, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage
FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, linking procedures to premarital virginity and marital fidelity. FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman's libido, and thereby is further believed to help her resist "illicit" sexual acts. When a vaginal opening is covered or narrowed, the fear of pain of opening it, and the fear that this will be found out, is expected to further discourage "illicit" sexual intercourse among women with this type of FGM
FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are "clean" and "beautiful" after removal of body parts that are considered "male" or "unclean"
Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice, practitioners often believe the practice has religious support
Religious leaders take varying positions with regard to FGM: some promote it, some consider it irrelevant to religion, and others contribute to its elimination
Local structures of power and authority, such as community leaders, religious leaders, circumcisers, and even some medical personnel can contribute to upholding the practice
In most societies, FGM is considered a cultural tradition, which is often used as an argument for its continuation
In some societies, recent adoption of the practice is linked to copying the traditions of neighbouring groups. Sometimes it has started as part of a wider religious or traditional revival movement
In some societies, FGM is being practised by new groups when they move into areas where the local population practice FGM

Types Of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
This image shows the different types of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Global Issue
Female Genital Mutilation

Whilst FGM gets little coverage in western media, it is a huge deal in parts of Africa in particular. The total number of girls and women who have undergone FGM has been estimated at anywhere between 100 and 200 million. Most FGM takes place in Africa, away from the global media spotlight, so we generally continue to ignore this barbaric issue

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Related Facts & Figures
Female Genital Mutilation In The World Female Genital Mutilation In Europe
Female Genital Mutilation In North America
Female Genital Mutilation In South America
Female Genital Mutilation In Asia
Female Genital Mutilation In Africa
Female Genital Mutilation In Oceania
Related Weblinks
Female Genital Mutilation Weblinks, Factsheets & Publications
Lots of useful weblinks relating to FGM, including activism websites & organisations, factsheets and publications. Links to some of those who are also actively pushing this cause on Facebook & Twitter are also included.

[1] MICS = Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) are a survey program developed by the United Nations Children's Fund to provide internationally comparable data on the current situation for children and women in developing nations throughout the World.
DHS = Demographic and Health Surveys. The 'Measure DHS Project' is a project which measures health and population statistics within developing nations. DHS is ran by Macro International, Inc. and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with contributions from other donors such as UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, UNAIDS.

[2] Years listed represent the latest available national figures for each of those countries at the time of publishing this 2009 data release, according to the United Nations.
[3] 'ChildInfo.org: National prevalence of FGM/C among women 15-49' (a UNICEF website) This dataset is the latest available dataset for FGM/C statistics from the United Nations. Many United Nations websites still carry the 2008 release as their main reference statistics, and this 2009 issue is also available on some United Nations websites as the '2010 statistics', but it should be considered the 2009 data release. Last updated by United Nations agencies November.2009, last retrieved by BlatantWorld.com on June.20.2010
[4] The Sudan data comes from the 'Sudan Household Health Survey'.
[5] The Zambia data comes from the 'Zambia Sexual Behaviour Survey'.
[6] This is additional information which is included in the "Countries where female genital mutilation has been documented" section of the United Nations UNIFEM report "Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement". This report was released in 2008.

Fair Use Notice

This page contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

(1) Purpose & Character of Use: To educate our visitors about the nature of, and overall prevalance rate statistics for, Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting, within African nations. This information is provided for non-profit educational purposes only.
(2) Nature of Copyrighted Work: National prevalence of FGM/C among women 15-49, by ChildInfo.org, a non-profit website, which is an entity of the United Nations.
(3) Portion Used: The entire chart is used.
(2) Nature of Copyrighted Work: Countries where female genital mutilation has been documented, section of the 'Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement' report, by UNIFEM, a non-profit United Nations agency.
(3) Portion Used: A very small portion of the overall report is used.
(2) Nature of Copyrighted Work: Female genital mutilation factsheet, by the World Health Organisation, a non-profit United Nations agency.
(3) Portion Used: The majority of the factsheet is used.
(4) Commercial Effect: There does not appear to be any commercial effect regarding any of the material used within this article, as the copyright holder - the United Nations - is a global publicly-funded non-profit organisation. If one of their main purposes is to publicise this information, we should be aiding their cause.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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